On January 19th, the Student Committee for IMSA Advancement (SCIA) held a Legislative Brunch in the Steve and Jamie Chen Center for Innovation & Inquiry, commonly known by IMSA students and staff as IN2.
SCIA is an organization run by student and faculty members to advance IMSA and its mission through building and maintaining relationships with external partners, such as the legislators at this event, alumni, and donors. The board, including President Bhavya Vegesna and Legislative Chair Valeria Castellanos, works closely with the Director of Public Affairs and Outreach, Tami Armstrong, and the Alumni Relations Coordinator, Tamara Newquist, to do just that.
Roughly fifteen legislators RSVP’d to the Legislative Brunch, with between 7–10 attending themselves or through representatives from their office. The SCIA board also invited roughly 24 students, with 2–4 students being invited from each of the districts these visiting legislators represent, to give them the chance to talk with their legislator over brunch. This is important as it allows these legislators to become aware of what IMSA is and what it stands for, as well as the support it needs from them to continue to grow and thrive as a higher education institution.
Throughout the event, the SCIA board greeted legislators and connected them with the students from their district. There was also a short presentation given by Dr. Evan Glazer, IMSA’s president, about IMSA’s budgeting needs, urging the legislators to consider these when voting on budgeting for the next fiscal year. This was followed by a brief speech and a tour for the legislators around the IMSA campus by the SCIA board.
Barring the last few years that were impacted by restrictions from the COVID-19 outbreak, SCIA hosts between 1–2 legislative brunch or dinner events every year. Besides these, they host numerous other events on campus. These include Take Your Legislator to School Day (TYLSD), and a legislative panel event, as well as a Letter to Your Legislators initiative, under their legislative sector. Under their alumni sector, they host Picnic With Alumni (which is hoped to take place this year towards the end of the academic year), Career Fair, an alumni panel event, and, in the future, they hope to host an “Externship” program, although it is currently still in development. SCIA is also very involved in the coordination and assistance of many other IMSA events throughout the year, including Convocation, the Veteran’s Day Assembly, the Lederman Assembly, and IMSAloquium, to name a few.
If you are an IMSA student wanting to get involved with SCIA, these events are great ways to do so! There is also an opportunity to apply to be a student representative for the SCIA board. This position comes with training and the responsibility of helping to advance the organization’s mission.
When asked about the event, Valeria Castellanos (SCIA’s Legislative Chair) had to say that “For events like this, student engagement is critical because legislators want to hear from YOU—they care about you, their constituents, and often value civic engagement as it is a large part of their work. SCIA is so thankful for all the students who joined us for Brunch, everyone did a great job representing IMSA to our legislative leadership. We hope to continue offering opportunities like these and so we urge students to be open to them!”
Special thanks to Valeria Castellanos for her interview with The Acronym describing all of the above information.