College and university students add to the vibrancy of our community. They are both our present and future residents, workers, and leaders.
Students while in school play several roles:
- Students fill many of the jobs that enhance our quality of life - coffee shops, restaurants, entertainment, etc.
- Students are interns. They bring as much to the businesses they work for as the companies learn from them. If we want to keep this future professional workforce in the area, we must give them ways to engage with us. We must work with partners to increase internship opportunities.
- Students are citizens, sometimes longer term. Many who go to school here want to stay. We need to develop stronger paths that turn them from students, to graduates, to employees, to community leaders.
- Students are volunteers in our community. I saw many be a Big Brother or Big Sister while on the marketing committee for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Many students have coached my children in sports. Their enthusiasm, their time availability, and their energy are all characteristics we need more of in our community.
We Can be More "Together"
To thrive now: Jobs for students were decimated by the pandemic. Many are struggling to make car, rent, and tuition payments. I know what that's like. I had scholarships due to my underprivileged upbringing to pay for school, but jobs provided my livelihood -- taking notes for a person with disabilities, referring volleyball games, editing papers for engineering professors, doing data entry, and much more while attending UW-Madison. We must work with the universities to ensure students are not left behind due to financial hardships or are going hungry. I've seen our community support people in need. The university, too, is our community.
To move forward: I look forward to continuing my attendance at UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow's community breakfasts and Viterbo University President Glenda Temple's Community Advisory Board. The City and students must better connect, particularly as we look to attract people to live in the City. Where and how they want to live helps us develop smarter - not just housing, but elements that enhance our quality of life. The student senate, which is already a demonstrated body of student leaders, is a great place to start.
I've modeled what engagement with higher education looks like. When first in a hiring position, I hired interns and have never stopped. I'd estimate more than 20 have worked with me over the years. Some of them provided very endearing testimonials when I first announced my candidacy. Their fresh perspective, their enthusiasm, and our team watching them grow professionally and later in life are the rewards.
I also have proven relationships. While at the 7 Rivers Alliance (regional economic development), I had the pleasure of having both Chancellor Gow and then Western Technical College President Lee Rasch. In fact, my lead-partner-support model of defining roles is "borrowed" from Lee Rasch.
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