Students from the Community Scholars Program (CSP), the Boltwood Program and Student Bridges heard from State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose of the 3rd Hampshire District (which includes Amherst) about his work in clean energy and education, as well as what it is like to be one of the youngest state reps.
Particularly notable was a conversation with State Representative Natalie Higgins, who is a 2009 graduate of UMass Amherst and of the Community Scholars Program. Rep Higgins shared her compelling personal journey as a first-generation college student at UMass to one of the youngest representatives at the State House.
Students also met with Senate President Stan Rosenberg and shared with him their own policy interests, stemming from the projects they are working on with their community partners in Western Massachusetts.
Representatives from the Raise Up! Campaign and PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts) presented information about their current campaigns, and students also attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, where they witnessed public testimony, incuding on the impact of steep reduction in benefits on recently employed low-income residents, also called the “cliff effect.”
Before heading back to Amherst, students took some time to explore the State House itself, which included viewing the “Hear Us” exhibit, a marble portrait gallery of six notable women in history http://masshumanities.org/programs/shwlp/shwlp-tour/).
Public Policy and Citizen Action is the third of four classes in the Community Scholars Program. The annual State House visit is part of an effort to support students in exploring the ways that public policy forms a critical part of the context of our social and civic lives. Learn more about the CSP here: https://www.umass.edu/cesl/programs/community-scholars-program