More than 150 UNT students, alumni and friends filled the halls of the Texas State Capitol in February to advocate for continued support of higher education.
For John Matthews ('83, '87 M.B.A.), the inaugural UNT Day at the Capitol hosted by the UNT Alumni Association was an incredibly rewarding sight.
Matthews was involved with student government during his time at UNT and remembers traveling to Austin with former administrators Walt Parker ('40, '47 M.Ed.) and Alfred Hurley to speak with legislators about the positive work happening at the university.
"The time I spent traveling to Austin to visit with legislators as a student had a phenomenal impact on me," says Matthews, now a member of the UNT Alumni Association Board of Directors. "It's wonderful to see this initiative return as a priority for UNT, and it's something we absolutely must do. We're the fifth-largest university in the state, but we aren't funded like that."
Those who took part in UNT Day at the Capitol visited the offices of all 181 legislators and shared information about UNT. After departing Denton at 5 a.m., participants arrived in Austin ready to visit the chambers and representatives.
Sophomore Yolian Ogbu appreciated how many of her peers took the time to travel and champion UNT in Austin.
"It's a testament to the values and priorities of UNT students. We believe in UNT, and we want the best for every student," says Ogbu, who is studying political science and communication.
Students and alumni teamed up for legislative visits and to ask for support of UNT's legislative appropriations requests. Those requests call for keeping Texas manufacturing competitive by funding UNT's Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing and helping families affected by autism spectrum disorders by funding the North Texas Autism Collaboration.
"This experience is a phenomenal way for students, especially those earning degrees in political science and law, to see the day-to-day workings of the state capitol. Plus, it was a great way for alumni to be re-energized," says April Cain ('02, '02 M.S.), a Denton CPA and member of the UNT Alumni Association Board of Directors. "UNT Day at the Capitol is meant to assure that UNT gets the recognition it needs and the priority funding for what we want in both the short and long term. I feel excitement for the future."
"Glory to the Green and White" and the North Texas fight song emanated from the open-air rotunda when the UNT pep band performed a lunchtime concert.
Being at the Capitol gave Adora Gomez a rush.
"I've been on the law track since sixth grade and an experience like this affirms my desire to pursue that path," says Gomez, a freshman from Sugar Land. "It's interesting to hear legislators discuss bills that impact our lives."
Given the success of the event, the UNT Alumni Association already is planning to mobilize again during the next session in 2021.