Hamline News

February 24, 2012

Undergraduates Thank MN Government Officials for Supporting Higher Education Opportunities

Day at the Capitol group shot

“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 politics.

“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 Human Services.

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 to come.

“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. Hamline University students visit the Minnesota State Capitol to talk with legislators and network with alumni.