A celebration of student engagement

It was billed as “A Celebration of Student Engagement,” and members of the student government of Blackhawk Technical College and their counterparts from the 15 other Wisconsin Technical College System schools were presented with a chance to engage Wisconsin legislators on the same Tuesday those legislators were discussing a proposal to increase financial support for tech and other college students.

While the State Assembly debated (and eventually passed) Gov. Scott Walker’s $10 million college aid proposal on Tuesday, BTC student reps were meeting with District legislators seeking their support on two special issues – college affordability and credit transferability.

The student issue paper – formulated in a Monday meeting among all the student reps – noted how 23 percent of WTCS students meet the Federal guideline for “economically disadvantaged” status and that more than $6,000 of yearly college costs go uncovered by students. Gov. Walker’s proposal, which includes an emergency relief fund for needy tech college students, is aimed at addressing that affordability issue.

Students also encouraged legislators to develop a plan that would guarantee that all credits earned at a WTCS institution would be accepted by all other state two- and four-year institutions.

This lesson in lobbying lawmakers came as other BTC and WTCS students showcased the skills they are bringing from the classroom into the workplaces around the state.

“This is one of my best days of the year,’’ system president Morna Foy told an audience gathered on the second floor of the rotunda at the State Capital. “This is the day you get to show off and talk smart.’’

BTC was well represented by Anne Shroble, Matthew McNulty and De’Ron Pegeese, who were operating a Capstone project from the Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Milton that illustrated the computer operation of various mechanical applications. In addition, Michelle Lomax and Katie Bautista extolled the virtues of the Career and Professional Development certificate that helps students enhance their employability skills.

“You are our ethical, educated workers of tomorrow,’’ Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefish told the gathering. “You are our future.’’