By Chiamaka Nnah, senior biology major
I thought UMES Day in Annapolis (Feb. 10) might be boring. I was unclear about my role, so assumed I was going to be sitting around watching people give presentations. As a biology major, I didn't really know much about the Maryland General Assembly, except for the generic information taught in high school.
“What did I get myself into? What would I be doing? No one is interested in talking to us!” Then, everything changed.
I recognized a familiar face. It was (1975) UMES alumnus Robert McGlotten. I immediately lit up and said, “Do you remember me?” He said, “Of course I do,” and gave me a big hug. Little did I know he would make that day one of the best experiences of my life.
When Mr. McGlotten suggested we go look for Eastern Shore lawmakers, all the students where immediately interested. Earlier that morning, I had seen Catherine Pugh, the mayor of Baltimore, so I was eager to meet more public officials.
Mr. McGlotten explained how the (state government) office buildings are connected with underground tunnels. We met different senators along the way. I was amazed how excited they were to see us.
One woman we encountered is a registered lobbyist. I always hear about lobbyists and was curious to see what she does, so I asked. She explained she represents clients who hope to convince lawmakers to support issues organizations deem important. It was amazing getting the opportunity up close to see how lobbyists work.
The highlight of the day was watching a controversial debate: “Should students be able carry firearms on campus?” I got to witness the intense debating between Democrats and Republicans. Many believe college women should able to defend themselves from attackers by protecting themselves with firearms. Others believe trusting young people with that responsibility can result in significant tragedies.
I could relate being a college student. I personally would not trust my peers with a rock, let alone a gun. I was pleased they voted against it. 84 to 64 - very close!
Annapolis Day made me interested in a profession that I never thought I would fit in. I saw how lawmakers represent the people. It made me realize who you vote for is very important, because they represent you when debating important issues.
I was filled with excitement and motivated to become a part of government. More students should visit Annapolis when the legislature is in session and experience what I experienced.
Mr. McGlotten is such a huge advocate for UMES. He exemplifies HAWK PRIDE. He was a “Human Google!” He knows so much about UMES and would always say good things about the university. He inspired me to want to give back to the university.
By the end of the trip, I was smiling because of what I got to do that day.
Mr. McGlotten treated the UMES students in our group to lunch and was the best tour guide. He made UMES Day in Annapolis a blast.
We finally got to meet state Sen. Jim Mathias (of Worcester County). He spoke about how we should continue to pursue our educational goals and we thanked him for supporting UMES' requests for (state) funding our university students need.
This experience was amazing. I would go again.