By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– A delegation of student leaders from Victor Valley College just returned from New Orleans, Louisiana where they spent a day in service with the St. Bernard Project which refurbishes homes that were blighted by Hurricane Katrina in 2003. The students then spent the rest of the three days discussing critical issues to community college students and earning a student leader certification in ASACC’s L.E.A.P.S. program. L.E.A.P.S. stands for leadership, education, advocacy, planning, and service. President Amanda Monroy, Vice President Kimberly Antekeier, Secretary Charity Lindsey, Executive Senator Timothy Tyler, Social Sciences Senator Esther Ross, Public Relations Senator Daniel Mariano, Health and Public Safety Senator Chantel Picon, and Activities Senator Joshua Bryant met with 100 other student leaders from across the country. “The contribution of Victor Valley College at the American Student Association of Community Colleges National Student Leadership, Citizenship and Advocacy Conference was critical,” said Phil Clegg, Executive Director of ASACC. “Community College student leaders have a lot to offer and the experiences that they had and the training they received will make them even more effective on their campuses to better serve the students they represent.”
“Regardless of political preference or the state of residency, student leaders united together to discuss how we are going to continue to fight for student rights and ensure that higher education is affordable and possible for everyone. One issue that VVC brought up at ASACC was lowering the independent age for FAFSA. The current age to have automatic independent status, to receive financial aid, is 24. We would like to lower that age to accommodate more students who currently are unable to qualify for financial aid because they have to file as a dependent. Students should not be denied access to education based on their income, as a dependent, when and if they can claim their Independence prior to age 24. Advocating to lower the independent age provides a greater access to education which may very well have a positive impact on all other student issues. Perhaps a decrease in dropout rates, for those students who are unable to afford their college education, or a decrease in student loans thus decreasing student debt,” said VVC A.S.B. President Amanda Monroy. The meetings and workshops held over the course of the conference included: analyzing the results of the 2014 mid-term elections, meeting management, leadership strategy, and influencing the legislative process. These courses prepared the participants to go back to their campuses and serve as better leaders with a more effective voice. A highlight of the conference was an address by a nationally recognized speaker and founder of ForCollegeForLife, Casey Cornelius. He spoke on the basics of setting and achieving the goals student leaders have in college and throughout their lives. Cornelius encouraged the students to “not only follow, but to create your dreams.” The basic message was that a positive attitude and a belief in your abilities can take you far in this world. Cornelius’ message promoted individual responsibility and taking action as leaders. His positive attitude and words of encouragement were an inspiration to the students participating in the conference.
The American Student Association of Community Colleges hosts two student meetings each year the first in Washington D.C. and the other in various communities across the country. ASACC makes leadership, citizenship, and advocacy central themes for the conferences and encourages students to become engaged citizens.