Wednesday, 31 July 2019 22:52

Collegiate Member Reflects on Advocacy Summit

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WVMEA sponsors two collegiate members, Tanner Petri  and Genesis Mihalko, to attend the Collegiate Advocacy Summit in Washignton D.C. WVMEA sponsors two collegiate members, Tanner Petri and Genesis Mihalko, to attend the Collegiate Advocacy Summit in Washignton D.C.

Hello, I am Genesis Mihalko, one of two collegiate members of NAfME that WVMEA sent to the “Collegiate Advocacy Summit” in Washington D.C. this June to represent music education for the state of West Virginia. When being asked to reflect on this experience, at first it was hard to put into words how this event struck me and affected me; however, my most common response has been “it was life changing”. “It was life changing” is a very broad statement, but I don’t believe there are any better words to express how this event made me feel, and how it will gear me to look at situations, differently, moving forward.

While being present at the event, it was significant to me to hear a culmination of Hill Day stories from college students all across the nation as well as leaders of different states and the nation. These stories were all so personal, some sentimental and some not, but the passion behind each and every one of them was breathtaking. For me, I have always wanted to be a music educator, and I’ve always had this driving force of passion for it, and it was enlightening to be surrounded by people with passion that matched mine.

Participating in Hill Day, especially for the state of West Virginia, who on a state level, is struggling, in some regards, with education was very eye-opening. As we met with each representative, it was shocking to me how they all cared and advocated for the arts because they saw the importance of them. This surprised me because not all states have that mutual agreement when it comes to the arts. Having that, we were able to sit back and talk just straight education, and that conversation sparked that idea of we are fighting for much more than music education in the state of West Virginia. We are advocating for the same well-rounded education that students in other states are getting, which includes the arts. This drove me to want to fight the good fight for the state of West Virginia even more, and this was crucial for me because I feel more passionate about West Virginia education than that of Pennsylvania, where I am technically from. I must preface, I want all education, everywhere, to be equal and equitable to all, but right now, West Virginia needs more support.

Overall, as I sit back to think about this experience, all I know is I want to go and participate in hill day over and over again. Our voice matters, and my experience on the hill emphasized that to me all the more, and it opened my eyes to a new passion of mine, or a passion I had but it was hidden: advocacy. I would like to thank WVMEA for sending me as one of their two representatives. I will never forget my time on the hill, and that experience will drive me to continue to advocate for what’s just: a well-rounded education.

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