By Aubreigh Heck / Online Editor
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly visited Hutchinson Community College on Sept. 16, continuing a long-standing tradition started by the Kansas State Fair. Carter File, HutchCC’s president, welcomed Kelly, recognizing the reasons behind her visit.
“I think it’s great for students,” File said, “I think it’s great for staff to get to see the governor of the state of Kansas. This is a longtime tradition at Hutchinson Community College that during Governor’s Day at the state fair, the Governor has come and spoken to Hutchinson Community College students.”
Kelly, a democrat who became Governor in Jan. 2019, started her speech in the Stringer Fine Arts recital hall by reminding the audience of how important higher education in Kansas is.
“Our Kansas colleges, universities, community colleges, tech schools, really play a central part in our state’s continued success. This is where innovation is driven,” Kelly said. “This is where jobs are created.”
Kelly then talked about student’s opportunities to learn about civic engagement, and advocacy. Gov. Kelly called for the need of young people to bring new ideas forward, to make our state stronger, more vibrant and more attractive.
She called the audience to action, asking them to consider how they can lend their voices to their communities and schools.
“Being an advocate is about recognizing when something isn’t right, or when something isn’t being done, and doing something about it,” Kelly said.
She then called for teamwork to work towards a common goal.
“There could be such coalitions and organizations here at the school right now,” Kelly said, “if so, join. If not, start one.”
Even though students may have crammed schedules including school, work, and family obligations, Kelly asked one thing of the students in the audience – to vote.
“Register to vote in the upcoming elections. All you have to do is pull out your Kansas driver’s license, or your state identification number, and using your phone or your laptop, go to voteks.org,” Kelly said, and then explained the registration process.
Kelly called on the audience to vote for every election they could. Whether that be city council elections or school board elections, every election is just as important as voting for governors, and presidents.
“Young people have a greater stake in the future than people my age,” Kelly said.
As she closed her speech, she spoke of her journey to becoming the governor of Kansas. After losing an election to become the secretary of her sophomore class, she graduated wanting to pursue a degree in mental health, thinking nothing else of politics. When she moved to Kansas, she became the first executive director of the Kansas Recreation Park association, advocating for better parks to help make people and the communities healthier. She was drawn back into elected politics when she was asked to run for the state senate. She served in the senate for 14 years, until she was elected governor.
“I can’t imagine a better opportunity to make life better for all Kansans, all across the state,” Kelly said, “So I encourage all of you to get engaged. Take risks, and be open to new opportunities. But whatever you do, please, do it here in Kansas.”