Cal Poly CLA News

The latest online edition of CLA's Impact Magazine

Cal Poly Students Honored by Lawmakers at State Capitol




students are state capitol 

Original story by Jay Thompson

On Monday, Jan. 30, nineteen Cal Poly students were recognized for their awards, hard work and other accomplishments by state lawmakers on the floors of the state Assembly and Senate in Sacramento. Three of the nineteen students represented the College of Liberal Arts.

“These young adults have distinguished themselves in so many ways during their time at Cal Poly,” said university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong, who accompanied the group to Sacramento. “They truly are representatives of our campus’s Learn by Doing ethos and individuals who are an inspiration to students in middle and high schools who seek to achieve a hands-on education.

“It’s a pleasure to share their accomplishments with California’s elected officials, who will get a chance to see for themselves the quality, enthusiasm and energy of what our faculty, staff and I know will be tomorrow’s industry innovators and community leaders.”

The group was introduced Monday afternoon to the Senate by Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, and to the Assembly by Assemblymember Dawn Addis of Morro Bay, who is the first female Democrat ever to hold this seat. Both officials represent San Luis Obispo County.

The students also met with Karl Larson, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis’s higher education advisor. Kounalakis plays an important role in Golden State higher education as a member of the boards that oversee the University of California and the California State University. Cal Poly is one of the 23 CSU campuses. Larson earned a doctorate in molecular, cellular and integrative physiology from UC Davis.


Meet the three CLA students who were honored:

Headshot of Gracie Babatola

Gracie Babatola
Santa Cruz, California
A political science major in the College of Liberal Arts, Babatola is Cal Poly’s 2022-23 student body president. “I’ve always just loved being in a room where decisions were being made,” she said. Active in student government while in high school, when she entered as a Cal Poly freshman in the fall of 2020, the pandemic was dramatically impacting campus life and classes. She sensed something else: a disconnect between the student body and the Associated Students Inc., student government. As a sophomore she decided to change that and ran last spring on a platform of “rebuilding connections.” Achieving that starts with “having students understand what ASI and what student government really is,” she said. “I often meet students who obviously understand the general idea of student government, but they don’t see the particular ways ASI has benefited them.” The 20-year-old also sits on several committees whose work touches many facets of student life for campus residents and those who commute. She also is a representative on the Academic Senate Executive Committee, composed of senior administration officials and key faculty members. At the state Capitol, Babatola, who has a focus on pre-law, plans to continue speaking for her youthful electorate by pressing lawmakers on one of her key issues: “Care about the politics of young people beyond election season when our votes are needed.” Cal Poly has provided many opportunities for the six-time Dean’s List scholar. When she was considering colleges to attend, three things convinced her to commit to become a Mustang: affordability; proximity to Santa Cruz; and a Learn by Doing learning style that extends from the technical and biological sciences to the liberal arts, she said. “Cal Poly is helping me by providing hands-on experiences working with local governmental leaders and helping me network with industry professionals as I think about law and graduate schools.” Babatola is minoring in ethics, public policy, science and technology and plans to graduate this spring and attend law school with the goal of becoming a public defender. “I’m hoping that my role in student government will improve my communication skills and my network,” she said. “In political science there’s often two main routes for graduates to go: law or elected office. This position (as ASI president) has helped me see other ways I can help people outside of politics.”

headshot of jacob schlottmann-mcgonigle

Jacob Schlottmann-McGonigle
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Schlottmann-McGonigle, a political science senior with a concentration in pre-law in the College of Liberal Arts, describes himself as a “future lawyer and public servant.” He has been active in Cal Poly student government for several years — as the student co-chair of the Associated Students Inc. or ASI, Alumni Council; the External Affairs Committee that represent student views of government laws and policies; and chairman of the University Union Advisory Board that makes policy recommendations for such ASI-managed facilities as the sports fields, the student union and even the 50-foot Cal Poly P that looks down from the slopes of the eastern edge of campus. Cal Poly students are stakeholders in ASI and have access to leadership positions through student government and on-campus employment at ASI facilities. The 22-year-old plans to graduate in June. “My experience in the workforce alongside my many years spent volunteering has shaped my view and understanding of the world,” he said. “Currently, I am interested in going into either immigration or constitutional law as a way of helping people who are less fortunate than myself. Past employers have described me as a dreamer and a doer.” Moreover, he ultimately aspires to “to start my own non-profit.” The former high school cross country runner has crested even greater challenges. He has climbed 14,505-foot Mt. Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the lower 48 states.


mads wales

Mads Wales
Indio, California
Wales, a graphic communication senior in the College of Liberal Arts, was part of the seven-member team that last March won the Phoenix Challenge Flexo Packaging Competition. The yearlong project, which is open to colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada, had students helping a local small business rebrand and market itself with materials using the flexographic print process, a technique that uses a flexible plate to print on a variety of materials, for their design of new sustainable packaging and business labels. They worked with a small San Luis Obispo-based specialty baker to develop and design a cupcake carrying box, a three-pack extract box and different labels to allow the firm to market to specific groups and expand to new demographics. “The Phoenix Challenge was an amazing opportunity to put my packaging design skills to use and make an impact on an actual business,” Wales said. “By representing the College of Liberal Arts and Cal Poly, I hoped to show how our university’s Learn by Doing motto makes us stand out and prepares students for entering the workforce.” The 22-year-old plans to graduate this spring and begin a career as a consumer packaging designer. The competitive fencer looks forward to meeting state representatives. “As a college student and young adult, I hope to express to lawmakers how important it is for high school graduates to attend college, especially one like Cal Poly where they get hands-on experiences starting Day One,” Wales said.


Read the full story from Cal Poly News

Related Content