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Students Visit the Capitol for Higher Ed Day

Submitted by Melody Ethley, Panhandle State Collegian on 02/13/2019 Higher Ed Day was held February 12, 2019 at the Capitol. —Courtesy photo Higher Ed Day was held February 12, 2019 at the Capitol. —Courtesy photo

Goodwell, Okla. — Some of Panhandle State’s finest joined hundreds of students, faculty, and staff at the state capitol for Higher Education Day. This special day is hosted annually to observe the importance of higher education in our state. Many gathered for the legislative session that was hosted on the House floor of the capitol. State Regents requested $38.7 million for an increase in faculty salaries, and introduced their proposal for increased financial aid funding.

Panhandle State student Hannah Johnson said that “Higher Ed day was a great experience to project the needs of a school like OPSU…It was a great opportunity to meet the representatives that affect our daily lives and I think we have made a lasting impact on them!”

Speakers at the event included Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, Sen. Roger Thompson, Rep. Jadine Nollan, State Regents Chair Jay Helm, Chancellor Glen D. Johnson, and Chair of the State Regents Presidents Council, Oklahoma Panhandle State University President Tim Faltyn. In addition, three different students spoke about their personal experiences. Caitlin Anders, Cameron University; Aleysa Franz, Northwestern Oklahoma State University; and Palmer Tetley, Tulsa Community College, shared how higher education at Oklahoma’s public colleges and universities has positively impacted their lives.

Vice President of Outreach Dr. Ryan Blanton, commented, “This is a great opportunity not only for our students, but our legislators as well. They enjoy hearing from our students about the issues that are important to them. I am very thankful that they took the time to hear from them.”

As for the Panhandle students, the trip was very enjoyable. On Tuesday, students were able to explore the Capitol on a construction tour. They had an exclusive look on the improvements being made to the historic building, and were able to visit areas of the Capitol that were restricted to the general public. Throughout the day, the students also had the chance to interact with Senator Casey Murdock and Representative Kenton Patzkowsky.

That evening, advisors took the students to have dinner with Dr. Faltyn, Senator Murdock, and Representative Patzkowksy. Students were able to have one-on-one interaction with their legislators in an informal environment. The day’s activities were one of a kind, and so rewarding.

Student Life Coordinator Emilie Cowan stated, “It is awesome that we have a chance to provide our students with opportunities to go to the Capitol building and meet with the Representative and Senator that help with our University. I am excited to take more students in future years!”

All of the students in attendance were very grateful for their experience and definitely gained a better understanding of what goes into higher education institutions. Students cannot wait for another group of students to attend Higher Education Day and experience a student oriented educational trip.

Panhandle State President, Dr. Tim Faltyn, added, “I am so proud that our students get to participate in this event each year. Their interactions at the state level truly make an impact for the future of higher education.”

The students who were chosen to represent Panhandle State in Oklahoma City were student athletes, leaders, and our very own Panhandle royalty. Nancy Melendez-Trejo, Jasmine Estrada, Melody Ethley, Hannah Johnson, Lukas Holub, Reece Peterson, Jorge Rosas, and Sean Skipton all were in attendance this year. Advisors Kim Tuttle and Emilie Cowan supervised the trip along with Dr. Ryan Blanton.