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ODU's Virginia21 Chapter Honored as Best Among State's Colleges, Universities

Old Dominion University's chapter of Virginia21, a statewide, grassroots student lobbying organization, was recognized as the best of any Virginia public college or university for the 2010-11 school year.

The award was presented at a luncheon, attended by Gov. Bob McDonnell, April 28 in Richmond.

Chapter president Brittany Burns, who graduated from ODU in May as a history and communciations student, said ODU members of Virginia21 made many trips to Richmond to lobby and meet with other students to discuss the future of higher education in Virginia.

"We attended the Governor's Commission on Higher Education meeting in Richmond last Dec. 3 at Virginia Commonwealth University," said Burns, who is from Roanoke. "Virginia21 brought so many students that the meeting had to be shut down because we had filled the room. This was the start of a revolutionary year."

At the April 28 luncheon, Burns received the Virginia21 award for Most Outstanding Leadership for her roles as chapter president and regional director of the Hampton Roads area for Virginia21. She said the main thing that made the ODU chapter's advocacy possible was having a "committed team made up of students from different political groups and backgrounds that were all working for one common goal - to further higher education."

Among other events, the ODU chapter also attended Virginia21's lobbying training day, and lobbied for the passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HB2510). That law, which was passed by the General Assembly, will help make higher education more accessible to every student, Burns said.

"I am proud of our chapter and the success we had this year, and look forward to the future of Virginia21. The organization is incredibly important and impactful throughout the commonwealth," she said.

Burns said in her time as chapter president, she has met Gov. McDonnell, state legislators, lobbyists, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and students from across the state whom she normally would not have met and befriended.

"Virginia21 allows students to become organized and have a voice that represents their best interests. The opportunities that are presented through Virginia21 are innumerable and irreplaceable. I firmly believe if anyone is interested in getting into politics on the state level that it is almost impossible to compete with the connections those in Virginia21 are making."

This article was posted on: May 20, 2011

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