U.S. Senator John Barrasso delivered a simple message to the students of Rocky Mountain Middle/High School on Tuesday afternoon during a special assembly held on campus: Every student in Wyoming has the opportunity to go to college under the state’s unique scholarship program. Just stay out of trouble and get good grades.
He noted that no other state in the nation has a program like the Hathaway Scholarship and encouraged each and every student to take advantage of the program.
“For a scholarship you usually have to compete against someone else,” explained Barrasso. “In Wyoming, every student in this room today can get a scholarship to pay for your education. All you have to do is stay out of trouble and keep up your grades. You don’t have to compete against anybody, other than yourself. And, during this time when so many people are graduating with so much student debt, we don’t want you to have debt, we want you to have opportunity.”
Barrasso has a long career in government and in medicine. He has long been a strong advocate of the Hathaway Scholarship, including during the time he served in the Wyoming Legislature. Barrasso spoke about the virtues of being a Wyoming resident and of being an American citizen. He said he thanks God every day for being blessed to live in America. He said one of his goals as a U.S. senator is to make sure that citizens continue to have great opportunities, as well as responsibilities, and that he especially honors those who serve in the military to preserve uniquely American ideals.
He opened the discussion with an amusing story about how his mother told him every day of his life that that particular day was the most important day of his life.
“What she said is true, because everything you do this year is huge for next year,” he explained. “Therefore, this is the most important year of your life.”
He said his father, who had to quit school during the Depression, pushed him very hard. He said his father encouraged him to work hard whether it was in medical school or pushing a wheelbarrow filled with concrete.
In his typical shoot-from-the-hip style, Barrasso fielded questions from students about a number of politically charged issues like gun control, using coal for energy and which candidate he thought was best suited to be president.
When asked, he said he thought the structure of the Wyoming Legislature “worked better” than Washington because members had better communication with one another.
“We actually sat in chambers all day long and actually listened to each other and it was helpful because you actually heard what every person had to say,” said Barrasso. “I think it really made a difference.”
He said he’s found that in Washington D.C. other meeting commitments often conflict with being on the Senate floor and more often than not, one person ends up speaking, for the most part, to an empty room.
“I think it would work better in Washington if we all sat down and listened to each other but there’s a lot going on,” he said, noting that in the Wyoming Legislature there is more attention to scheduling committee meetings at times that don’t conflict with House and Senate sessions. “I think it’s a little bit better the way we do things in Wyoming. We always get a lot done here.”
Barrasso said he enjoys visiting the schools whenever his schedule allows it and visits schools in Big Horn County at least once or twice a year, selecting a different school to visit each time.
By Patti Carpenter