Recently, the Sunderland Foundation donated a whopping $15 million to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. These funds were desperately needed, as the General Assembly continues to under-prioritize our state universities. In the last session, the Republican majority approved the same amount of funding for state universities as was provided 20 years ago in 1999. In turn, the cost of higher education is passed onto students, who are forced to borrow tens of thousands of dollars to pursue their career ambitions. I, myself, carry six figures of student debt. If we allow this to continue, we are facing yet another financial crisis.
While at UMKC, I served as the Student Body President. In that role, I advocated on behalf of 14,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. I strived to ensure students’ voices were heard during tough budget cut discussions, and I also zealously participated in the Chancellor Search Committee, so as to select the most qualified, promising leader for the university. I also fought for and secured scholarships for students displaced by dangerous housing conditions.
These experiences clearly show that I am ready to fight for students in the General Assembly. I know what students experience when they are on campus, and I know their needs. So, as your State Representative, I will fight to return funding to adequate levels in order to allow our colleges and universities to thrive. Education is directly correlated to economic development, and we must invest in it accordingly.