Four student trustees and the district chancellor meet with Juan Vargas in his Washington office.

SDCCD Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez along with student trustees Julia Kogan, Phoebe Truong, Allen Kuo, and Diego Bethea meet with Rep. Juan Vargas in his Washington, D.C., office.

Student trustees take flight for advocacy

April 4, 2023 | San Diego Community College District

Student Trustees Diego Bethea, Phoebe Truong, Allen Kuo, and Julia Kogan can now add state and federal advocacy to their resumes thanks to back-to-back trips to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., at the start of 2023.

Four student trustees stand in front of the White House for a group photo

From left, student trustees Julia Kogan, Phoebe Truong, Diego Bethea, and Allen Kuo stand in front of the White House.

The San Diego Community College District, through its Board of Trustees, Chancellor's Cabinet, and Student Trustees, attended the Community College League of California 2023 Annual Legislative Conference in Sacramento, California, on January 29-30, 2023, and the Association of Community College Trustees National Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C., on February 5-8, 2023.

While in Sacramento, the student trustees participated in meetings with state leaders such as Assembly Members Akilah Weber, David Alvarez and Tasha Boerner Horvath, among others. While on Capitol Hill, the student trustees, met face-to-face with Representatives Sara Jacobs, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas, and United States Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten ― who is a San Diego Mesa College alumna.

“One of the things I admired most about these meeting with our legislators as well as the conference was the emphasis on the student voice,” said Dean of Outreach and Student Affairs Luke Menchaca.

During the March 23 Board Meeting, all of the student trustees expressed their gratitude to the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez, and others who helped organize the trips, while also sharing their personal takeaways from the experiences.

“As Aaron Burr says in the play Hamilton, ‘To be in the room where it happens,’ I’m at a loss for words. To shake the hands of our representatives ― our state assemblymembers and senators ― I definitely won’t forget this opportunity.” ― Diego Bethea, San Diego City College (who also experienced his first plane rides during the visits)

“As the daughter of immigrants who came here to give me a better future, I never imagined I would have this opportunity to be in DC and Sacramento advocating for students like myself. An experience that stood out to me was hearing Sarah Jacobs’ story and hearing her say ‘eventually someone told me if I wanted to see a young woman in politics, I would have to do it myself.’ Hearing this made me feel like change is something you do, not just watch. This experience changed my life.” ― Phoebe Truong, San Diego Mesa College 

“Moving forward this would be a really good experience for future student trustees. It was really when we were in DC talking to legislators and looking in them in the eye that it seemed that they were really engaged in the conversation and listening to what we had to say. It made me realize that it is possible for us to make change on a greater scale.” ― Allen Kuo, San Diego Miramar College 

“I traveled with a sense of responsibility to represent my college and District in the best possible way. In reality it exceeded my expectations. I learned how to build strong relationships; I got great experience and skills in communication. We have learned how to work even better as a team as student trustees. I was able to share my story as an immigrant student and show what needs my college has today.” ― Julia Kogan, San Diego College of Continuing Education


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