Senator Richard Burr was invited to the Salem campus Monday afternoon for a discussion with a small group of students about federal funding for financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants. He met with Dr. Susan Pauly and students Sara Rapp C’12, Angela Mojica C’13, Saidy Garcia-Lopez C’13, Hannah Greenwald C’14, Shelby Oldham C’14, Tuula Perry C’14, Denise Leonard C’14 and Jenny Barker C’13. During the visit, Senator Burr explained the importance of education.
“There’s no single thing as important in this country as education,” he said. “Education positions your generation to be the next movers and shakers. You look at any of these countries experiencing great change right now—Egypt, Iran, Tunisia—and the change is being led by young people.”
He also shared insights about the tough economic times our country is facing, and the issues of budget cuts and the national debt. He explained that he understood the importance of financial aid programs and said that the Pell Grant program would continue, with tightening on eligibility requirements and other measures to make it financially feasible.
All of the students in attendance receive financial aid, and they spoke with Senator Burr about how important it is to them and their peers that these programs remain in place.
“When I came to Salem, my dad was working three jobs and my mom had just received her GED,” said Greenwald, a Psychology and French major. “So to me, it’s just so amazing that I was able to come here, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of grants.”
Others spoke of parents losing their homes, or of losing their own jobs and returning to school to pursue a different career path. The dialogue with real students was exactly what Dr. Pauly hoped for when she invited Senator Burr to campus.
“His visit was a marvelous opportunity to not only thank him for his service to the state, but to give him a chance to meet some of our wonderful students and hear from them what it means to have financial aid available,” she said.