Last week, students in AP Government classes at Pioneer High School got to meet and hear from US Senator Debbie Stabenow.
Stabenow shared a brief message about her career in politics, from serving on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, working in the state legislature, losing in the Democratic primary for governor, serving in the House of Representatives, then serving as a Senator since 2000. She stressed the importance of voting. “Somebody is going to make a decision, and usually it’s multiple people from school boards to the city council, the county commission, the state legislation, the congress, the president,” Stabenow said. “They’re going to make decisions that affect you. Your choice is whether or not to participate, and my feeling is the most important title that we all own is citizen, the power of citizen, and our system works better if we all participate.”
Stabenow then opened up the floor for questions from the students and talked about a variety of political issues such as climate change, school shootings, and her opinion of former President Donald Trump.
Stabenow also addressed issues around being a woman working in a male dominated field and how to work with people you don’t like. For the women in the audience, Stabenow encouraged them to follow her footsteps. “I would say believe in yourself, don’t let people say you can’t, it’s not your turn, you should wait, you don’t have enough experience,” Stabenow said. “You know over the years I have seen men that I know have zero experience and think they can do something, and usually the women in the room were like trying to get experience.”
Pioneer 11th grader Alexandria Miller was excited to hear Stabenow’s thoughts on many topics she was interested in, particularly about women in the workforce. “I heard that very personally, as a person who wants to be a part of the Supreme Court hopefully. It helps me realize it is possible,” Miller said.
Pioneer 11th grader Ethan Simon agreed that it was interesting to get the opportunity to meet a Senator and ask questions both political and personal. He found some of Stabenow’s political positions intriguing. “Her interests on different topics are things that I think not many Senators aren’t normally meshing together,” Simon said. “Like with climate change and then she also has a big focus on agriculture and industry which I think are usually the topics are pretty partisan. So I think she takes a very bipartisan approach, which I find very interesting.”
Social Studies teacher Rebecca Ball was pleased with the discussion between the students and Stabenow. Students were engaged and they were asking her questions that I thought really inspired them for what they might be doing in the future,” Ball said. “It’s wonderful when we are able to show the students that what we are learning in class isn’t just theory, that it’s real life and it matters, and I thought she brought that to us. It was wonderful.”