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Student Leaders Head to Washington, D.C.

This article appeared in a February 2017 issue of the student newsletter.

Every spring, Dallas Community Colleges give student leaders the opportunity of a lifetime: an all-expenses-paid trip to the National Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. Upon arriving, students spend three days meeting with elected officials, networking with other community college leaders and attending key conferences. 

“They can tell their life-changing DCCCD story better than anyone,” says Paige Bluejacket, who was selected for the annual trip in 2012. “These students will have the power to make a difference! It will be a great networking and public speaking opportunity.”

Sharing Their Story

Bluejacket's life-changing DCCCD story is still being written. A graduate of El Centro College, Bluejacket is now the senior special projects manager at Dallas Community Colleges. There she leads the DCCCD Street Team, a diverse group of student leaders from across the district who volunteer their time to reach out to prospective students and the community. Students who are chosen for the Washington, D.C., trip are selected from the DCCCD Street Team.

“Five years ago, when I arrived here, I felt like I would never learn English,” says Susana Rodriguez, a Street Team volunteer who works with Bluejacket. “Now here I am, heading to Washington, D.C., to represent Dallas Community Colleges to members of Congress. It’s amazing.”

Rodriguez will be representing more than Dallas Community Colleges, however. She also represents working mothers, Mexican immigrants, adults returning to college and 100% grit.

“When I came here from Monterrey I felt like I had no skills,” explains Rodriguez. “When I went to my children's schools I couldn't speak to the teachers, and when I went to the grocery store, I could not ask for the things I wanted.”

Through hard work, Rodriguez mastered her ESL classes at Mountain View College and began working on her associate degree. Today she is taking advantage of all the opportunities a college education allows — not just for herself, but also for her four children. 

“I started asking myself what kind of woman I want to be,” explains Rodriguez. “What kind of woman, mother ... wife. I think my credit classes gave me the tools to stop dreaming about the woman I want to be and put myself into action to be that woman. When I realized that I started making a lot of changes. I brought my husband to college too. We started changing a lot and going to college together. I started getting involved in college because I want to help others. College has completely changed my life.”

The Final Four

Susana Rodriguez (Mountain View College) will join Chelsea Garcia (El Centro College), Ka’Von Lee (Cedar Valley College) and Javier Perez (Brookhaven College) Feb. 13-16 in Washington, D.C. Accompanying them is DCCCD Chancellor Dr. Joe May, Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Justin Lonon and Associate Vice Chancellor Isaac Faz.

“We are grateful for all of the student leaders who submitted videos and applications to be considered to represent DCCCD at the National Legislative Summit,” says Bluejacket. “The final decision was very difficult for the selection committee, and the process actually went far past the deadline because it was so challenging. Any one of the 11 finalists would have done an amazing job representing DCCCD, and that sentiment was mutual across the selection committee.”

The group was narrowed down to 11 amazing finalists, representing the entire district. These inspiring students leaders are: Amrya Birdsong (MVC), Ezra Calado (RLC), Chelsea Garcia (ECC), Ka’Von Lee(CVC), Deborah Lovera (NLC), Alba Macias (NLC and RLC), Divine Okwuchukwu (ECC), Javier Perez (BHC), Brayan Ramos (ECC), Susana Rodriguez (MVC) and Aaron Sustaita (EFC).

Dallas Community Colleges congratulates all the finalists as they are truly an example of leadership and perseverance.

Go Further

You can read about last year's trip to the National Legislative Summit in our 2016 News Archive.