By Sarah Brakebill-Hacke
RCTC Student Senate President
“As my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
A person’s voice is a powerful thing. Even more magnificent is the energy of a community when they come together with a unified voice.
When I was a child, all I dreamed of was freedom. I felt suppressed and isolated. I envisioned a world where people were respected and empowered, and where a difference of voice was greeted with an open heart and mind. I made a journey through the back roads of life, ultimately finding my place in the world, strapped with a mission to empower those around me and a hope to create bridges of understanding among opposition.
To begin, my early years were filled with heartache, isolation and hope. I was bounced from foster home to foster home, rarely remaining in one place for longer than a month. The system had failed me. I felt trapped, alone, and voiceless. When I turned 16, I received the news that I was going to be a mother. I was then discharged from the custody of the state, emancipated, and left to my own devices. I received my GED at the age of 16, enrolled at RCTC at 17, and found employment at a Taco Bell in town. I did quite well for some time. I was on the Dean’s List and had my own apartment, all while caring for a newborn baby. It all became to be too much, so when I was 18, I decided to give my little angel up for adoption. I was stricken with anguish and despair, which led me to dropping out of college.
Now, this isn’t meant to be a story of despair. This is a story of triumph. Because the system had failed me in so many ways, I made it my life’s mission to empower those around me. My life transformed in the year of 2011 when my travels led me to Washington state. I was sleeping in a van outside of a Walmart when I saw my very first petition. For those of you who don’t know the magnitude of power that a petition holds, I will explain. In 24 states, a petition is a legal document that comes directly from the people. If the required number of signatures are gathered, the issue is placed on the ballot for the next election. It was magical.
For the next six years, I would work on well over 30 campaigns changing laws, policies, and local constitutions. The best part is that the power truly is within the citizens’ hands. Through my work, I realized that I was not alone in the battle to find my voice. So many others in our communities are also victims of a broken system. I saw a need for better representation in our communities. This inspired me to return to school and finish school and pursue a law degree. My goal is to give the voice and power back to the people. The truth is that we always had the power, we just don’t have the knowledge of the power; I want to inspire growth, and it all starts here at RCTC.
Our team is working on reforming the platform and election process of the Student Senate. We have already created a petition process for the students! Currently, there is no general election for the student president or other senators that are tasked with representing the student body. They are elected by the Senate. Our goal is to open the election to the student body. We have created an election committee and are currently gathering students to help guide the process. We want to promote inclusivity and equity. We want to give the power back to the students and inspire you to create the changes that you see necessary.
To conclude, I know that there are many times that one might feel powerless, isolated, or suppressed. I also know that if we work together to inform and empower those around us, we can build a strong community that can withstand anything. If the reader can only take one thing away from this message, let it be that we, the Exec team, are here. We want to hear your voice, we want to inspire you to create change, and our hope is to instill the value of freedom in your hearts.