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South Carolina State Representative and TRIO Alumnus Kambrell Garvin Reflects on the National Student Leadership Congress


March 30, 2021

By Justis Lopez

Justis: Thank you so much for the honorable Kambrell Garvin, Representative here for South Carolina. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to connect with the TRIO Community and NSLC, to share your experience. Would you briefly describe to us your current role that you are involved in and what NSLC provided you for your current leadership position?

Garvin: Awesome, yes so again my name is Kambrell Garvin, I am 2006 alumnus of the NSLC program in Washington D.C. I went up to Washington D.C and had an amazing experience. Before I get into that, I was elected to serve as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2018 and I often credit my NSLC experience with laying a foundation for wanting to be a part of public service. I was able to debate bills, legislation, see how the process works, and interact with elected officials. This was really the key in my development as a leader. Today as a member of the South Carolina General Assembly, I always make sure to take time to meet with young folks because I know just how formative that experience was for me as a young adult - to be able to have the ability to interact with those who are in positions of decision making.

[Watch the full interview with Representative Garvin here.]

Justis: Thank you so much for that answer. If you could briefly give some advice for some young people who may be on the fence about participating in NSLC or who may be on the fence about being involved in political engagement or civic duty and engagement, or maybe being involved locally in their school board, for example. Any advice you would be able to give to them?

Garvin: Certainly. I want to encourage all the young folks who are listening to this message today to get involved. It is never too early to start giving back to your school community, to your local community, to your state, and even to your nation. I think that we have an opportunity to really do some good work. I know I started as a 6th grader. I was a middle school student, and I ran for my first position as the homeroom representative and that was my first opportunity to really talk to my peers and be able to share why I wanted to be involved. All these years later, those same experiences still translate into the important work that I do as a member of the General Assembly. I also want to tell young people that your age should never dictate your contribution. Just because you are young or you cannot vote yet, that does not mean you cannot be a part of the solutions to making our world a better place.

Justis: Thank you so much for the kind words and the information bestowed upon the young people. Thank you so much for your wisdom. Is there anything else you would like to part ways with? Any other closing words? This has been amazing.

Garvin: Yes. So, I will simply say, I want to encourage everyone today that the National Student Leadership Congress was really an important program for me. It was important because it shaped who I am as a leader. I want all of those listening who may be on the fence or who may be unsure if this program is right for them, to take a chance and do it. I was a 12- or 13-year-old when I came up to Washington D.C and was able to meet my congressman and engage with the TRIO Program at a national level. Now, all these years later it is certainly an honor to be able to reach back and pay it forward, because somebody took the time to reach out to me. I know there are young people out there who in 10 or 15 years, or even sooner, will be doing the same thing for future generations of young people.

Justis: Thank you so much representative Garvin for your words and for your work. Take care everyone.

[Learn more about and apply to COE’s open student opportunities here.]