Being the son of two public school educators and a former full-time substitute teacher, it’s no surprise that education issues and strengthening public education was one of my motivating reasons for seeking public office. Since I have been in the House I have spent a lot of time and energy working to increase access to post-secondary education for people throughout Michigan and in Macomb County specifically. Macomb is the largest county in Michigan, and the third largest in the nation, without a four-year public university. Though we are home to arguably the best community college in the Midwest, we have been consistently overlooked for the state funding, jobs, and economic development that come part and parcel with a four-year university. It wasn’t an intentional slight, but has grown over time to be a glaring oversight and our county’s educational attainment rates have lagged as a result. Simply put, we weren’t at the table when decisions about higher education were made.
That is why I am so proud of Alisha Baker. Alisha is a single mom who lives and works in Mount Clemens. I first met her when we were both working on the county proposal to convene a charter commission and reform county government. We were successful and that process is now well underway, but I’m so glad that Alisha’s public activity hasn’t ended. This week, Alisha was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Board of Trustees for Ferris State University. This is an unpaid position that requires her to frequently drive to Big Rapids. Alisha is not a Ferris alumnus and did not sign up for this position because she loves Ferris football (Go Bulldogs!) Rather, she put herself forward out of what I believe is a genuine desire to elevate expand higher educational offerings for not only students in Macomb County, but throughout Michigan. There are people across the state who serve in capacities like this and make Michigan work. I applaud all of them, but take special note when it is one of our own!