By Marielle Echavez, Staff Writer —

Two of our graduate students are the first ever from UTC to meet lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to advocate for graduate education.

The two UTC grad students, Korede Ajumobi and Celeste Bremmer, are among the first UTC students ever to participate in the national Council of Graduate Schools, or CGS, in Washington, D.C., for its annual advocacy day.

Both Ajumobi and Bremmer are set to graduate from UTC in May. Ajumobi is from Nigeria pursuing a master’s degree in mathematics. Bremmer is from Indiana completing a master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology.

On April 3 and 4, 40 CGS member deans and graduate students attended CGS’s 2019 Advocacy Day. This involved a training session on effective advocacy strategies with the CGS’s government affairs staff as well as Congressional meetings on Capitol Hill.

Participants, both deans and graduate students, met with 61 House and Senate offices of both parties, and graduate students were able to advocate for things such as graduate education, research, and scholarships.

Prior to attending this event, Ajumobi said he looked forward to attending the CGS event so he can advocate for graduate education from his unique perspective, being that he is an international student.

According to Ajumobi in a previous interview, 40 percent of international students at UTC are on graduate assistantships and have some form of stipend.

“That, to me, speaks to the value of graduate school, that you have a lot of people coming here to get a good education and one that’s affordable. Then they are staying here, getting jobs and contributing in many ways to the economy, the workforce and society. It also says a lot about local citizens who are part of a welcoming environment,” Ajumobi said, according to a recent UTC blog post.

As voices for graduate education, these students advocated for the preservation of graduate student options for borrowing and loan repayment in a Higher Education Act reauthorization, strengthen the support for federal student aid and research funding, as well as support for policies that the promote the attraction and retainment of  international graduate students to come to the United States.

Bremmer talked about how one of her favorite moments happened during the training workshop. They were tasked with creating a 6-word phrase that would spark conversation about graduation education.

Her favorite phrase that her group developed was, “learning it, creating it, and implementing it,” Bremmer said, according to CGS’s website.

“When you connect diverse individuals with a similar passion, you’re truly able to make a greater impact,” she said.

Bremmer is grateful to have had this opportunity, and she hopes to continue advocating for graduate education and share this experience with others.

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