My name is Leonardo Kendall, and I am running for Portland Community College Board director for Zone 2. I am a recent PCC graduate, having graduated last spring term, 2018, with an associate's degree. I am currently attending school at Portland State University and plan to graduate with my bachelor's degree in 2020.
I decided to run for this position because I believe that students and young people deserve a voice in positions of power. As a young person, I believe I bring a perspective that is often underrepresented in these positions. I am still currently attending college and I, like many young people in our society, have an absurd amount of student debt. I think that because I am currently in college and have this student debt, I have a unique opportunity to understand the problems with our education system.
I understand that some voters may see me as inexperienced, having served in no prior public office before. While I understand these concerns, I am not without any political experience. I have been involved in politics for a large portion of my life. In high school I started by working on a senate and state house campaign. In 2016 I worked on the Hillary Clinton campaign in Pennsylvania as a field organizer. While in college I have been the intern of multiple state house members, including Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson during the 2017 legislative session. I hope to be a public servant throughout my life, and I feel that running for office while I am still young is the most effective way to get experience. Being elected to this position would be an unbelievable opportunity to learn while being able to also serving PCC.
I believe that the single most important issue facing PCC in the coming years is affordability of education. In my time at PCC I saw what an incredible resource it was for so many Portlanders. PCC offers an affordable education to those who cannot afford a private university. However, in recent years the idea of PCC being affordable has been slipping away. In my classes people constantly complained about the fact that PCC is becoming less and less affordable. I remember older students and professors in my classes who spoke about how PCC used to be so cheap, it was easy to pay out of pocket. I googled it — it was $40 per credit in 2001. Today, that rate has climbed to $111 per credit, which is approaching the rate of PSU, around $170. If we truly value affordable education, Portland Community College must reclaim the position of leader in this pursuit.
PCC has been a leader in offering affordable and equitable education to women. Nowhere is this more clear than in PCC's women resource center. While I was in school I was able to witness firsthand the incredible job PCC does at making its campuses safe and welcoming to LGBTQ students. The Queer Resource Center is an incredible service for these students and helps them get access to counseling and scholarship information. These two offices are incredible resources for students and show that PCC is a leader in both fronts.
However, I believe that PCC can go further in both areas. I believe that both offices should be expanded to all four PCC campuses, with as much attention as the Sylvania offices. There should also be a greater amount of scholarships and financial aid offered to these students, and an ease to applying for scholarships. Many of my fellow students had a relatively hard time understanding the process to fill out these scholarship applications. For underprivileged students who may not have the time, it should be made easier.
I appreciate this opportunity given to me by Pamplin Media Group, and I thank the voters of Zone 2.
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