By Brad Ellsworth
In 2008, students on this campus and on college campuses around the country accomplished something extraordinary.
You turned conventional wisdom on its head by doing one simple thing: showing up. Here in Indiana, you made
thousands of phone calls, knocked on hundreds of doors and came out to vote in historical numbers for the candidates and causes you care about.
By doing so, you showed not only that young people cared about the future of our country, but that you are determined to shape it yourselves. And it’s a good thing, too, because you are inheriting some of the toughest
challenges we ’ve seen in generations.
Among the most pressing challenges we’re facing, especially for those of you in your senior year ,is putting our economy back on solid ground and ensuring there are abundant job opportunities for college graduates.
The numbers don’t lie: the average college student now graduates with about $20,000 in debt. With an unemployment
rate of just over 10 percent, recent college graduates are competing against more experienced workers for scarce jobs.
Our leaders must be focused on creating an environment that encourages businesses to choose to locate in Indiana, and once they’re here, to grow and create good jobs for college graduates.
The first thing you can do is ensure you have the skills and training you need to compete in the global economy.
Indiana’s economy is shifting toward advanced manufacturing with high-tech plants that produce complex products for automakers, medical device companies and other major industries.
Graduates must have the training necessary to do these jobs if we are going to continue expanding this sector of our economy. That means increasing investment in advanced manufacturing and engineering programs at Indiana’s two- and four-year colleges.
It also means making tuition more affordable for students and their families. Our daughter, Andrea, graduated just a few years ago, so Beth and I have experienced rising tuition costs first hand.
I want to make it easier for Hoosiers to go to college. That’s why I supported legislation to cut the interest rate on subsidized student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent and expand the Federal Pell Grant program to provide more need-based college grants to millions of American students.
These small steps will save students an average of $2,000-$4,000 over the life of their loans.
There are a lot of other things we can do to make Indiana the destination for businesses to locate and create jobs.
That’s everything from investing in our infrastructure and schools, cutting the red tape that prevents small businesses from growing and thriving and providing long-term tax relief to allow middle class families and small businesses to plan for the future.
We can pass common sense energy legislation that keeps utility bills affordable, while beginning the transition to cleaner forms of renewable energy to power our homes, cars and businesses.
We can invest in our schools, put talented teachers in our classrooms and make sure every student, no matter their background, has an equal chance to succeed at school and at life.
And, above all, we can elect leaders who put progress over politics, leaders who put others before themselves and leaders who will fight for everyday Hoosiers instead of the powerful special interests in Washington.
Just as you did in 2008, you have the power to shape the direction of this country through your vote and your voice.
You can make a difference, but only if you show up. So register to vote by Oct., volunteer to make calls or knock on doors and be sure to vote on Nov. For more information on our campaign, you can visit www.ellsworthforindiana2010.com.
Brad Ellsworth is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. He spent 25 years in the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s office— eight of those as sheriff. Ellsworth currently serves as Congressman for Indiana’s eighth district.
Brad Ellsworth for Indiana sent this column to several other universities in Indiana. Look for a similar submission from the Dan Coats for Indiana campaign next week.