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Beacon students Ary Brown and Samantha Chavez

Mr. Smith went to Washington.

Last month two Beacon students went to Tallahassee. While there, they, like Mr. Smith, too learned something about how the political machine’s gears are greased.

ICUF Dr Hagerty and Students Ary Brown and Samantha Chavez traveled to the state capital for a birds-eye view of grassroots lobbying as part of the annual caravan of students selected as Presidential Fellows to represent schools that are part of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF).

“I really thought the entire experience was nothing short of an once-in-a-lifetime experience for me,” says Brown, a sophomore from Winter Springs, Fla. “I am incredibly thankful for being given such a great opportunity to be able to make a difference on behalf of other students both at Beacon College and around our great state.”

ICUF is a group of 30 private, not-for-profit, higher-education institutions including Beacon College that champions for access to independent higher education. ICUF has administered the Presidential Fellows program since the 2004-05 academic year.

Alongside Beacon President George J. Hagerty, Brown, a sophomore from Winter Springs, Fla., and Chavez toured the House chambers. They also met with state agriculture chief Adam Putnam and Republican senators Dorothy Hukill of Port Orange and Anitere Flores of Miami, among others.

Chavez says the trip to Tallahassee helped her understand how the legislative sausage is made.

“It was a really good experience,” says Chavez, a junior psychology/human services major from The Villages. “I didn’t really know much about that stuff, but I definitely have an idea about how that stuff works now.”

Later the students participated in one-on-one meetings with lawmakers. Brown and Chavez shared their personal journeys and experiences at Beacon College and advocated for the Florida Resident Access Grant.

The William L. Boyd, IV, Florida Resident Access Grant Program delivers tuition assistance to Florida undergraduate students attending eligible private, non-profit Florida colleges or universities.

“ICUF student grassroots advocates have worked hard to ensure that students at independent colleges and universities have a voice in Tallahassee by assisting the ICFU lobbying efforts through previous academic years,” ICUF notes. “The impact of ‘real students with real experiences’ continues to educate and bring awareness to our legislators and governor each year.”

Brown says she most enjoyed “being able to have face-to-face conversations with seated members of the Florida government. I was highly intrigued by the way the politicians act and talk within the capitol. The entire trip was a wonderful learning experience for me.”