Tonight I’ve had the greatest privilege of my short ‘public service’ life: Writing an enacted resolution that supports science and innovation.
Being a legislator of any kind wasn’t on my bucket list. Being in public service might have been though. I still remember when I was in fifth grade asking my father if one day I could be the president of the United States. My thoughtful dream was back in the 1998, which might be the worst time in modern history to think of being in that office. I’m not sure what was the reason of such childish aspiration. If I would ever desire to be in such shoes today, it would to have a stronger impact over the people of the free world (and beyond). Such an office could make people struggle or prosper. An office with that power would be able to direct waves of economic growth or district mountains of previous accomplishment. Being in such an office would probably give me a power that I could use for good use as well.
But I’m not definitive if that was my reasoning when I had such thought in fifth grade to be the U.S. President. Was it the desire to gain power? Or fame? (I’m certain that I don’t want the fame Clinton gained in that year). Or was it the ability to speak to millions? The thought is buried in my memory where I can’t recall why. But I can recall very well since being a kid I wanted to support growth of scientific discovery and innovation. I wanted to be a scientist, but more fulfilling, I wanted to be able to help scientists. I’ve joined science clubs, created science groups and learned from environments that help learners to grow. My first job was in helping kids to build robots. My journey in entrepreneurship was based on my passion to make passionate curiosity a way of thinking.
Dave letterman once said to Jon Stewart in a farewell of one of Stewart’s early unpopular shows: “Don’t confuse cancelation with failure”. And he was right. Dam how right he was seeing Jon Stewarts current success.
I’ve witnessed myself the decline of many non-profit and student groups, initiatives, and projects. Sometimes it is hard to accept the fact that you need to stop and move on in another direction. But some other times an extra sprint is all what you need to start flying, and that what is the solar car team need now. The solar car team at Oregon State, a team that I have joined for 2 years and 3 races out of intense passionate curiosity, has lost their support and sponsorship because of several considerations. They are now in the lowest point where they could stop doing everything they have been doing after retiring the Phoenix or start being a sustainable model by building an institutional memory for the team that lets the learning curve of new members fast and efficient. They could start building a world class car that could sustainably go 60 miles per hour without loosing a charge in a sunny day. But that won’t happen without support and sponsorship that boosts them during their most critical sprint in their lifetime.
Tonight, I’m glad to celebrate an unpopular way to support science, by being a legislator.
The sponsoring department decided to cut their funding and dissolve the team due to considerations of difficulty, complexity, and unfeasible benefit. That created an alarming concern about what informal science learning is all about: Complex problems and building ideas that might seem unfeasible in a short sighted view. After the student newspaper, The Daily Barometer, picked up on the issue with a critique. Several concerned Senators and I started working on a resolution to reflect the student body disagreement with the decision to dissolve the team. While writing the resolution, the solar car team members picked up on the mission to gather signups for a petition. They gathered beyond a thousand of signatures in less than 5 days with hundreds of encouraging comments from the public.
It was lucky to have the team dedicated to represent themselves, they were present in both sessions of the Senate and the House when their resolution was on the floor. Members of Senate and House showed great support and advocacy. Couple of passionate and smart Senators Josey Sechrist and John Varin helped me with focusing the resolution to its core and writing it with a strong and clear message. The President of the Senate stated the day of the passage of this resolution as one of the most fulfilling days of his service by supporting students and supporting them in their learning. I was lucky to have representatives of the student body who were committed to provide support to those who most need it.
Succeeding in this resolution was possible because it was a dedicated team who proactively gathered voices of support. It was possible because it reflected essential and core need for higher education mission. It was possible because of passionate legislators who helped me write, sponsor, and focus the resolution into its biggest impact. It was successful because the media supported the case and covered it in an objective manner.
Reflecting on my childhood thought, I might have thought as a kid that presidency or being in a public office as a way of gaining power. But it is not only that, it is a way to gain ability to have empathy and passion for things that matter. In this time I found it as a way to identify when to try to slow down the power that could deprive people from opportunities to pursue their college dreams: To build a world class solar car and learn from that experience what thousands of classrooms can’t provide.
P.S. Way to go for Benton County voting last night against prohibiting cultivating GMOs. Again, power should not be used to eliminate our chances to discover and innovate…. As long as we do that safely.