UNLV Graduate Students Advocate for Graduate Education, Funding in Washington, D.C.

Graduate students with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

From left: Katelyn DiBenedetto, Maria Ramos Gonzalez, Daniel Mast, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Jeff Eggleston, and Valarie Burke

Jan. 11, 2018

A group of UNLV graduate students recently traveled to Capitol Hill to thank elected officials for their support on the tax reform bill and to advocate for graduate student funding.

Valarie Burke (Sociology), Katelyn DiBenedetto (Anthropology), Jeff Eggleston (Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences), Daniel Mast (Chemistry and Biochemistry), and Maria Ramos Gonzalez (Mechanical Engineering) traveled to Washington, D.C. Jan. 3-5.

They met with Congressman Mark Amodei’s staff, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and a staff member, Senator Dean Heller’s staff, Representative Ruben Kihuen’s staff, Congresswoman Jacky Rosen’s staff, and representatives from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

“I think that they were productive conversations. They all took notes and very clearly listened to our concerns. They provided us with some insight into the discussions on the Hill. Several of the staff members were also going to reach out to certain committees and see if our concerns would be addressed in the Higher Education Act Reauthorization Bill,” said DiBenedetto. “And the conversation with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was just awesome. Like all of us, she believes graduate education should be accessible to everyone and that it plays a central role for the continued growth of Las Vegas, Nevada, and the United States.”

Prior to the trip, the group researched different topics and prepared to ensure they made the most of their meetings. The conversations – often 20 to 30 minutes – covered everything from federal funding of graduate education and loan forgiveness programs to DACA and the importance of diversity in graduate education.

“We have to remember that graduate education is really important; and if the United States wants to stay a world leader, we have to have a diverse populace that’s well educated,” DiBenedetto said.

There are talks of UNLV students traveling to Washington, D.C. and speaking with elected officials every semester, according to DiBenedetto.

 “UNLV’s voice was brought to the table, and that’s really important so our graduate community is not left out of discussions that will directly impact all of us,” she said.