Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Polk State students attended a COVID-19 youth relief town hall hosted by Future Forum on February 19 at the College’s Center for Public Safety, where they heard members of Congress talk about their efforts to bring greater relief and benefits to young people, as well as solutions to problems such as student debt.

Future Forum, an organization of Democratic members of Congress under 50 focused on the issues and opportunities for Millennial Americans, hosted City Hall virtually with a small group of Polk State students joining the member in person. US Congressman Darren Soto and Roosevelt Holmes III, who served as director of the Southern region coalitions for the Biden-Harris campaign.

“We know it’s critical to hear from young people across America. You are all current and future leaders of our country, and many of us are currently struggling with the pandemic and the recession. “

US Congressman
Darren soto

“We know it’s critical to hear from young people across America. You are all current and future leaders of our nation, and many of us are currently struggling with the pandemic and the recession, ”Soto said. “Help is on the way to help our students succeed. “

Soto and his colleagues examined the US bailout, which would provide an additional $ 35 billion in support to higher education institutions across the country, including around $ 14 million for Polk State. He added that the possibility of a $ 10,000 student loan forgiveness is under discussion.

The students also heard US Congressman Jimmy Gomez talk about the university’s transformational impact on his life, which reinforced why Future Forum is committed to advocating for the needs of students and institutions in the world. ‘Higher Education.

“Trying to figure out how to provide new opportunities for the next generation is crucial. I am a first generation student in my family, the youngest of six immigrant parents and when I graduated from high school I had no intention of going to university ”, Gomez said. “It wasn’t until a friend saw me struggling to make ends meet, living in my parents’ garage, that he helped me sign up for a course at community college, and it really helped. changed my life. “

He highlighted the affordability of community and public colleges and the ability of students to complete their education with minimal or no student loan debt thanks to the opportunities offered by these higher education institutions. Polk state tuition, for example, is about a third of the cost of state universities. He added that lawmakers will continue to stand up for those already struggling with student loan debt.

“We will be pushing to increase Pell Grants and eliminate student debt, and we will keep these issues front and center,” Gomez said.

US Congressman Eric Swalwell, founder of the Future Forum, echoed this sentiment.

“In the long run, we really want to bring down the cost of education. Have people [in Congress] who are connected to [student loan debt and having to pay for our education], this will give us a voice as we fight for relief after the pandemic, ”Swalwell said.

The students participated in a question-and-answer session with representatives, during which they learned about the COVID-19 vaccine, the prevention of future pandemics, additional legislation to support health and education, as well as advice on finding internships.

Nehemiah Charles, a first-generation student who aspires to study geomatics, took the opportunity to ask Holmes, who participated in the Biden-Harris campaign, to gain real-world experience as a student.

“Find out what your passion is – what is this thing that you could wake up and do for free for the rest of your life,” explained Holmes, an alumnus of Valencia College and the University of Central Florida. “Get involved – volunteer if necessary. Don’t be afraid to volunteer your time and service. These volunteer opportunities have brought me to where I am today. “

“The internships are closer than you might think,” Soto added. “We’re always on the lookout for smart kids to help us out.

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