It’s that time of year again as our students pack their book bags to head back to school. For some of you, it was the bittersweet feeling of dropping your little one off at kindergarten for a full day of learning. Hopefully you were able to hide your proud tears until they reached the classroom. For others, it was the joy — and nervousness — of seeing your high school student drive off to school with their license for the first time. And for many of you, it was the pride of taking the remarkably bold step to go back to school to learn new skills and embark on a new career.
Last week, I went back to school with the Braves at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. It was great to be on the campus and talk to students during their second week of classes. But before I got down to business and learned more about the great work the university is doing, I paused to take a quick “selfie” with the new chancellor, Dr. Robin Cummings. As part of its welcome week initiatives, UNC Pembroke was encouraging students to take a “selfie” and tweet it — of course I wanted in on the fun. You can see mine for yourself on my twitter at www.twitter.com/reprichhudson.
First up on my visit to the university was a quick visit to the museum of the Southeast American Indian, which is part of the Southeast American Indian Studies program at UNC Pembroke. My roots run deep in Robeson County — particularly in Saddletree — so I’m very interested in learning more about the history of our community. One artifact I got to see was an old canoe that was built in the 900s A.D. and found in the Lumbee River. It’s incredible that we are able to discover and preserve relics like that from our past.
Next, I stopped by the Biotechnology Research and Training Center to learn about the university’s work to develop innovative opportunities for students. Not only is the center focused on stimulating the transformation of knowledge and research into increased economic growth for southeast North Carolina, it’s also working to develop life-saving treatments and cures. One area of interest of mine is preventing traumatic brain injuries and making recovery from these injuries easier. With their research, the folks at the BioTech Center have left no stone left unturned and are working to understand how the brain repairs itself to help our men and women in uniform who have experienced traumatic brain injuries after an explosion. As a member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I’m deeply invested in making sure America remains the global leader of innovation, and I believe health care facilities like this must be given the opportunity to succeed.
After learning about that incredible research, I had the chance to visit the Entrepreneurship Incubator, which is still under construction, in downtown Pembroke. The building will officially open in September and house new, promising small businesses where students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience. This type of learning can’t be matched in a classroom, and it will help prepare our students to get good-paying jobs upon graduation. There’s no doubt that the hard work by both students and entrepreneurs at the incubator will have a hand in helping to revitalize Southeastern North Carolina.
And last, but not least, I stopped by the Nursing Department and met with a class of students. It was neat to see first-hand the hard work that students put into training to care for us in our time of need.
As I have said time and time again, access to quality education is one of the most important things we can provide our citizens. Education is crucial for increasing the potential of our workforce and getting North Carolinians back to work. During my visit, I was thrilled to see academic excellence happening in our back yard. And I have to say that UNC Pembroke deserves an A+ for the work they’re doing to strengthen our community and prepare students for a 21st century economy.
Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, represents the 8th District in the U.S.. House, which includes most of Robeson County.