This year's Leadership Lubbock class spent Tuesday and Wednesday in the state capital learning how government directly affects us here on the South Plains. For this year's class, the trip began about 20,000 to 30,000 feet up, in the skies over Texas.
NewsChannel 11 caught up with the class on their Southwest Airlines plane bound for Austin. The classes presence filled the cabin with not only excitement, but expectations. Jay Killough a Leadership Lubbock member and Assistant Director at the Texas Tech Career Center said, "As a service provider to the students and employees at Texas Tech, I want to go down to Austin and see how the legislation works and how the politics effects students and how they get jobs."
Stephanie Wehmeier is also a class member and Assistant Director at Texas Tech's Career Center. She says, "A lot of times they (students) see Lubbock as a place to come and get their education and then leave."
In a quest for a solution to that dilemma, Jay and Stephanie turned to Lubbock's elected officials. At the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Representatives Carl Isett and Delwin Jones spoke to the group about issues facing the South Plains. Jay reflects on what they had to say, "They talked about jobs first of all. The economy is on the rise and once it starts steadying companies are going to start hiring students again and we can instill more confidence in our students." Stephanie says, "It really makes you think what goes on in Austin really does effect us in the Lubbock area. So many times I feel like we're far away from Austin and the things that happen there."
Outside of the LBJ Library, a girl scout troop reminds the Leadership Lubbock group - Texas is united under one flag. The group ran into a troop of girl scouts as they held their hands over their hearts and recited a pledge to the Texas flag. Lubbock's representatives know Austin's ties to Lubbock are crucial and they've instilled that upon this year's Leadership Lubbock class.
Day two for the class began in the Senate chamber with a picture in the historic room. Then it was on to breakfast with some very distinguished guests. Senator Robert Duncan was just one, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst also dropped by to share his thoughts on Lubbock. Morris Wilkes was also there. Wilkes, a prominent lobbyist, imparted his wisdom on the class; speaking as an outstanding alum of Leadership Lubbock himself. From there the class toured the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum and had the distinguished honor of dining with Susan Combs -of the Texas Agriculture Commission.
Each of the influential leaders who made the day so special also left a lasting impression. Stephanie gave us her impression of the trip. "I think going into it, I never would have known how big of an impression it would have made on me. Just getting to see what our representatives are doing for us in Austin." Jay can't help but agree. "It's been more than worth it. A valuable experience I don't think I'll ever have again."
Each politician the Leadership Lubbock class met with left class members a challenge: to take what they've learned, use it to make a difference back at home, and get the community involved in their government.