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By Rose Gause
Recently, on February 15, FSU junior James Kirk, President of the University System of Maryland Student Council, had the opportunity to go to Annapolis and speak before a committee of The House of Delegates. He spoke on the behalf of students across the state regarding passing the Student Debt Relief Act of 2017 introduced by Governor Larry Hogan. If passed, beginning in 2018 the act would allow Maryland taxpayers, earning less than $200,000 a year, with student loans to deduct 100 percent of the interest paid on their student loan debt from their income taxes.
Kirk was the only student representative from Frostburg State to go to Annapolis and be on the panel with different representatives from the government office. He gave a brief speech about why he thought the act should be passed. He explained how student debt is a serious issue for college students especially since college tuition is increasing and students are having to take out more loans. He continued on about how students are willing to take out loans because they know their degree is going to be worth it in the long run, but it’s still a lot to take on that debt and passing this act would lighten the burden of paying it back.
Kirk feels honored to have gotten to participate in something that would ultimately help out students across the state.
“It was a really great opportunity for me both with my involvement in student government and also as someone who studies political science to get to go down to Annapolis, meet legislators, speak before a committee of the House of Delegates, and get that firsthand experience in participating in the legislature process. I also was able to participate in trying to make a difference on a public policy that would definitely impact me, my friends and other students at Frostburg,” Kirk says.
While at Frostburg, Kirk is a double major in political science and economics. Besides being President of the University System of Maryland Student Council he is also Vice President of Frostburg State's Student Government Association (SGA), sports editor for The Bottom Line, and a bobcat ambassador.
Being able to help make decisions has always been important to Kirk and he wasted no time getting involved in SGA at Frostburg.
“I was always someone who was just very interested in being involved when decisions are made and wanting to help out and make a difference. So, I joined SGA as a freshman senator right away from my first month on campus. I went from being freshman senator to a committee chair to the vice president. I was president for a while last year and now I’m the vice president here again this year,” explains Kirk.
As Vice President of Frostburg State's Student Government Association, Kirk understands the importance of Frostburg students being able to participate in decisions being made at a state level because Frostburg State is not as relatively close to centers in Maryland and Annapolis as other universities in Maryland.
He says, “I think it is very important for Frostburg students to make ourselves known because sometimes we are not the first school on people’s minds because you have these much larger schools that because they are closer can have the resources and ability to be a lot more present sometimes on state level engagement. So, I think it is really important when Frostburg students get the opportunity to go intern or speak in Annapolis or go to a conference in Baltimore.”
Kirk points out that his visit to Annapolis was not only important for Frostburg’s involvement in state-level engagement, but it was also an important experience for him to have since he wants to one day work for the government and be involved in public policy.
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