More than 100 students and staff attended IMSA’s Women Legislators Panel featuring State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D), State Senator Linda Holmes (D) and State Representative Patricia Reid Lindner (R).
The event was coordinated by the Student Committee for IMSA Advancement (SCIA), with the leadership of seniors Jen Byers, Kevin Crews, Tina Perez, Jenny Roderick, Shaine Strullmyer, Deedee Sun and Alisha Vimawala.
During the event, IMSA students had the opportunity to ask the legislators a variety of questions and discuss with them topics such as advice for women of color who want to enter politics, and whether someone with a degree in mathematics, science or technology would be desirable serving in the legislature.
IMSA senior Deedee Sun said the personal stories of each of the legislators were "inspiring."
"I loved hearing each legislator's separate story," Sun said "I admire Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia's passion and pride for her Latino culture and hearing about some of the hardships she had to overcome reminded me of hardships that my own mother endured," she added.
"Rep. Patricia Reid Lindner has a lot of family background in politics and when her mother was a legislator, it was still very uncommon for women to hold political positions," she said. "Hearing Rep. Lindner speak reminded me how short of a time women have had equal opportunities, especially in politics."
In addition, Sun said that she enjoyed meeting Sen. Holmes again, and learning about her "strong interest in energy conservation, and her work with CoolCities."
IMSA senior Kevin Crews said the event was a great educational experience for students because many are very interested in political issues including educational policy and the environment. In addition, Crews said it was very interesting to learn about the paths the legislators took prior to holding state office.
“I was very excited to hear that many of the legislators had different career interests and careers before becoming legislators,” Crews said. “I am interested in genetics, but it is nice to hear that there is always the possibility of politics,” he added.
Senior Shaine Strullmyer said the event was a valuable learning experience for IMSA students for several reasons.
“It gave students the opportunity to learn about the legislative process from those who work with it every day,” he said. “Also, I recognized the important role we as IMSA students can play in state legislation even at this point in our lives,” he said. “It is never too early to get involved or to make a difference.”
The SCIA is already planning for another legislator event in February, 2009. Contact Purva J. Rushi for more information (firstname.lastname@example.org).