This past week I traveled to Washington, DC to Advocate for TRIO Programs back in Iowa. Like much of the country you may have no clue that TRIO Programs exist and that’s a problem. Many of us have heard of Race to the Top, Gear Up, and No Child Left Behind, but long before them TRIO programs were created, launched, and have succeeded all around the country for the past 51 years.
*The Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) are Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post baccalaureate programs.
Click HERE to learn more about TRIO programs in your state.
Every year in March TRIO’s National Organization, called COE (The Council for Opportunity in Education), holds what is called Policy summit. TRIO directors, program advisors, supporters, and alumni travel from EVERY state in the country to march The HILL on Tuesday of that week to meet with their State Senators and Congressmen/women to educate them on the success of the programs, ask for future program funding, and of course to get their support.
Hundreds of TRIO Professionals at the Policy Seminar
I have attended the Policy Seminar the past two years now and have enjoyed meeting with our political leaders to discuss Educational Opportunity and Access for all students. I often get asked how scary it must be to meet with these “Higher-Ups” and so far my response is:
- There are people just like us… they just get to be on TV sometimes. (No Pressure)
- Our state voted for them so they kind of work for us too.
- It’s not scary when you BELIEVE in what your there to speak to them about.
I’ve talked with other colleagues from across the country and they have had some fairly uncomfortable meetings with their Reps and for the most part I believe that most all Iowans are NICE people and even if they don’t like us or our cause they will smile, be respectful, and appreciate the work you are doing in their state.
With 2 new Senators and 3 new Congressmen in the State we were unsure what to expect. My biggest worry was Senator Joni Ernst. During her campaign she was one tough cookie and has risen quickly in the delegation by being picked to handle the response to the Presidents State of Address in January 2015. For a ROOKIE that’s pretty intimidating. We also knew she is a huge supporter of Veterans; that’s what pulls her heart string… we were there to talk Education… how would this go?
Well, it went all well as we could’ve hoped. I gained a lot of respect for her and let me say why:
- Shook all five of our hands and asked our names.
- Was very Polite
- VERY Personable
- Spent time really listening to what we had to say
- Shook all of our hands, looked us in the eye, and remembered all of our names upon leaving.
Seriously, I can’t even remember one person’s name when they introduce themselves, let alone FIVE names, 10 minutes after talking. NO PAPER. NO NOTES. IMPRESSIVE.
Maybe that isn’t much but depending on how she does in office she may have just won a vote from me that she didn’t get in the Fall.
If you’re still with me after all the Political Talk I will share 5 things I loved about DC this time around.
1. I took the DC Metro for the first time! I loved the architecture!
2. I wore TWO of my new LuLaRoe skirts while at the Seminar. Love this pencil skirt paired with a chambray top. One minor problem though… it kept shifting when I walked so if I didn’t check my shirt button were all the way to one side! Any tips on how to keep this from happening next time I wear it? I also wore my black and white striped Madison skirt but don’t have a photo on hand to show.
3. People watching is the best in DC. We found a café on Monday morning that faced Union Station. I loved making up who the people were and where they were hustling to in their fancy suits and ladies in heels.
4. I got to meet up with 5 (one not shown) of my past Emerging Leaders this week! Last year we all spent time traveling together and learning how to become leaders in our associations. They are a fun group!
5. No matter where I travel or how quick of a trip it is I can’t wait to get home to my two boys! I probably chatted way too much at 9pm at night about the trip but G was a good husband and let me get it all out!
I hope that all of you have a passion or how found a platform that pulls on your “heart-string” and if you have please get involved in Advocating for their successes. Your voice does count.