Saint Mary's Students Lobby Legislators on Cal Grant Program

Six Saint Mary's students went to Sacramento on March 2 to share their stories about the critical financial aid they've received through the Cal Grant program and to lobby for continued funding in the upcoming state budget.

"Without Cal Grants, I know I would not be in school today," sophomore Alana Armstrong told state Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Manteca. "I am the first woman from my family to go to college. Cal Grants made this dream possible."

Berryhill acknowledged that "Cal Grants have been a successful program," but he cautioned that "many difficult budget decisions still lay ahead."

In addition to Berryhill, the Saint Mary's delegation met with state Assembly woman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, and Senator Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord. DeSaulnier was especially generous with his time as he took the students down to the Senate floor and Assembly floor and discussed with them the challenges state legislators face with the 2010-11 state budget.

The budget is $20 billion in the red, and the state legislature and governor are expected to clash on many details as they try to cope with closing the shortfall.

The Saint Mary's student-lobbyists joined more than 100 students from throughout the state to visit 78 legislative offices.

Among the Saint Mary's lobbyists were triplets Melissa, Michelle and Maryanne Cafagna, who are freshmen at the College and whose family needs help from Cal Grants to help them with tuition.

-- Tim Farley

Director of Community and Government Relations