“It's not a partisan matter to make a difference,”
Representative Jim Abeler of Anoka (R-48B) told a student group from his alma
mater, Hamline University.
Hamline undergraduate students gathered at the Minnesota
Capitol complex on Wednesday to impact higher education funding. The students thanked
legislators for past support for the Minnesota State Grant Program, which
provides financial support to 80,000 college students across the state. At
Hamline, 748 students receive an average grant of $3,500 from the program.
Though it may not sound like that much money, it can make all the difference
for students in whether a college education is achievable.
“I always wanted to go to college,” said Noah Oien-Rochat, a
Hamline senior. “Coming from a single-parent household, money is a little
tighter. The state grant program helped make my college dream possible.”
For students like Oien-Rochat, the state grant program has
been a crucial part of paying for college. And there are many others
benefiting, as well. In fact, one in four college students in Minnesota
receives a grant from the program. The average recipient’s family has an annual
income between $20,000 and $50,000.
“I am a Minnesota state grant recipient,” said Cameo
Frechette, a Hamline first-year student from Big Lake, Minnesota. “So it was
really important for me to be here and have my voice heard by legislators.”
The day at the capitol was not only about thanking state
legislators for supporting the program. During the morning students had the
chance to hear from Hamline alumni who are now working in government and
“I took a class from Hamline political science professor Joe
Peschek as an undergraduate that triggered something in me that wanted to make
difference,” said Tom Ruter, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1995 and a masters
of public administration in 1999 from Hamline. Currently, Ruter works as
manager of legislative and stakeholder relations at the Minnesota Department of
Members of the panel explained that Hamline’s emphasis on doing
all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all
the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can as long
as ever you can,” had resonated with them.
Others highlighted the importance of networking and working
hard, but also in having a bit of humility.
“The most important lesson I learned at Hamline is that I
didn’t know everything,” said Peter Wieneicki, a 2007 graduate of Hamline who
now does communications for the state senate Republicans.
The panel stressed the importance of getting involved and
learning to disagree without being disagreeable at Hamline. They also told
students to expect they will keep running into Hamline graduates in the years
“Get used to the faces you see at Hamline in student
government and coming to Day at the Capitol, because you will see them
throughout your career,” Bob Hume, a 2003 graduate of Hamline and deputy chief
of staff for Governor Mark Dayton, told students.
Hume said he has continued to grapple with some the same
issues and people that he first interacted with as a student at Hamline.
Learn more about the Minnesota
State Grant Program and Hamline
University students visit the Minnesota State Capitol to talk with legislators
and network with alumni.