I’ve always been a bit of a nerd about the law. It started my sophomore year of high school, when my honors history teacher witnessed me arguing with a fellow classmate. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in a meeting for the high school mock trial team. I loved it enough to continue it at the collegiate level. Four years of arguing cases, learning case law, and competing in courtrooms later, I was a college graduate, working a real job, and I started having withdrawals for everything legal.
In November of 2012, my colleague emailed me the information for the 2013 Legislative Conference provided by the Governmental Relations Committee. I signed up immediately because it sounded fascinating. I later worried about my rash registration, since I didn’t know much about what was going on in the legislature in our state, but I figured it would at least be a two-day binge of college counselor networking!
Once at the hotel and settled in, we jumped right into training for our lobbying agenda the next day. I’ll admit that I was pretty terrified of having to sit in front of a state senator or representative and explain our position on education. I had never once spoken to a state politician – why would they take me seriously? My group members were amazing and made me feel really confident in the material. We agreed to head to bed for the night, study up on our assigned elected officials and regroup the next day. I sat on my bed for the next few hours, pouring over our materials and researching the topics in more depth. By the time breakfast rolled around, I was itching to get to the Capitol Building.
Oh man, the Capitol building. I had taken a field trip there when I was around 12, but I had forgotten the majesty of the building. It sounds cheesy, but the importance of what we were doing weighed on me as we climbed the steps to the Capitol. My nerves were going crazy as we walked into our first meeting with an official representing Orange County. Those nerves melted away when we were greeted with a warm welcome and an interested ear. They cared about what we had to say! And they took notes! We were affecting change, and it felt amazing. By the time we hit our fourth meeting, my little team was on a roll and we charged through the material with confidence and passion.
The colleagues I met on this trip are still involved with the committee and still represent the interests of education by supporting the GRAC and planning this next Legislative Conference in Sacramento. I came away from my first conference with an awe for the people who work in my industry and with a renewed passion for learning law. If you haven’t attended this conference or are nervous about what you think you can add to it, let me assuage those fears. Come. Just come anyway. The committee is filled with incredibly talented and informed people and we will support you the whole way through. But it takes a village, right? So go ahead and sign up. We will be waiting for you in Sacramento!
Breanne Boyle is a member of the GRAC Committee and a College Counselor at Collegewise in Irvine, CA.