Students from Tidewater Community College’s Norfolk Campus traveled to Richmond on Feb. 11 as part of Legislative Day, and after a visit to the General Assembly, left with an appreciation of the political process from the inside out.
I can’t wait to tell my grandchildren about this,” said Fredora Joyner, a human services major at TCC. “They were so excited I was coming here.”
Joyner has much to share. Her group sat down with Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) and then Sen. Kenneth C. Alexander (D-Norfolk). Northam asked the students about their educational paths, listening intently to their responses.
Joyner spoke about overcoming a self-destructive lifestyle that included drug abuse.
“My life was like that for 36 years,” she said. “I was so excited the first day I walked on the TCC campus. I couldn’t believe where I was.”
Roderick Parker, studying social science at age 40, also talked about discovering the value of education later in life. Eboni Goodman shared her dreams of pursuing medical office administration, and Mica Powell told Northam she would like to become a doctor.
Northam talked about his work as a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and noted the value of education as early as pre-kindergarten.
Alexander, a former international relations instructor at TCC, urged the students to consider public office.
“You can sit back and complain or make a difference,” he said.
Other groups of students visited Del. Lynwood Lewis (D-Onancock), whose district encompasses a part of Norfolk; Del. Algie T. Howell (D-Norfolk); and Del. Daun Hester (D-Norfolk). Howell advised students to take their concerns to their representatives and to become politically aware and active.
Afterward, Jim Hines of TCC’s Office of Information Systems treated the students to a history lesson, including a tour of the Capitol. Students sat inside the old Senate chamber and heard the story behind the life-size marble statue of George Washington, which stands in the rotunda.
“I loved this; it was great,” said Ruth Artis, also a human services major. Artis said she particularly enjoyed the legislators’ genuine interest in the students. “They’re just people like us. I felt comfortable and relaxed talking to them.”