Adult Basic Skills students at Vance-Granville Community College’s Main Campus recently heard from three distinguished guest speakers with years of experience in public service at the local, state, federal and even international levels.
On Oct. 12, students had interactive discussions with North Carolina Sen. Angela Bryant, who represents Senate District 4 in the N.C. General Assembly, and Dollie Burwell, director of constituent affairs in the office of U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who represents North Carolina’s first congressional district. Bryant focused on state-level issues, describing the North Carolina Constitution and our representative form of government. She discussed the various offices that will be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. “As a citizen, right now, you are doing the most important thing you can do, which is getting an education,” Bryant told the students. “Once you’re done with your high school equivalency diploma, I hope you will continue to take advantage of the other opportunities for job training right here at this community college.”
Burwell talked about her experiences in politics, from registering voters and the civil rights movement to environmental activism. A Henderson native and longtime Warren County resident, Burwell has worked for three different members of Congress.
Eva Clayton spoke on Oct. 19 to the same students about democracy and her career. Clayton is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina and former assistant director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization at the United Nations. Before being elected to Congress, she was a Warren County commissioner, and in that capacity, was instrumental in establishing VGCC’s Warren County Campus. Clayton encouraged students to participate in their communities, to vote and to make their voices heard. “In a democracy, each person has a say,” she said. She also noted how important it was to make learning a lifelong pursuit. “I’m certainly still learning, and I’m inspired to see you here, learning,” Clayton told the students. “You give me hope.”
These events were organized by longtime VGCC instructor Brenda P. Gant to help her students learn about citizen involvement in government as part of the civics curriculum in the High School Equivalency program. By engaging in these “contextualized learning” activities, students were encouraged to connect their studies to the world around them and to become more aware of current events and issues so that they could participate in the upcoming election as informed voters. Gant asked students to consider how their guest speakers had contributed and served, and then how they could contribute themselves, and make their local, state or federal governments more responsive to their own needs. For more information on the Adult High School Diploma or High School Equivalency programs, call VGCC at (252) 738-3275.
Image Information: As Dollie Burwell (seated) listens, N.C. Sen. Angela Bryant discusses state government with students at VGCC. (VGCC photo)