Hailey Mathis is studying political science and history at the University of Oklahoma. She’s one of a very select group of college students each year who have the opportunity to learn about government and public service through an internship at the State Senate.
Like other interns we’ve had the privilege of working with, Hailey is eager to learn and assist our staff in day-to-day tasks, while acquiring experience and knowledge that will help her accomplish not only her goals in education, but in her future career.
Her dream is to become a professional lobbyist and advocate for people with disabilities. It’s something she knows about first-hand.
On May 3, 1999, Hailey was home alone in her family’s house in Bridge Creek, in central Oklahoma. An F-5 tornado completely destroyed her home. Although many who saw the scene thought no one could have survived, Hailey did, but because of her injuries, she is now a quadriplegic.
However, she is determined to live life to the fullest and accomplish her goals.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in six Oklahomans has a disability. Their challenges may range from vision impairment to needing to use a wheelchair, like Hailey, but they should all have the opportunity to learn, work and give back to their communities.
Each year the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) and their partners assist 85,000 Oklahomans like Hailey to overcome their disabilities and fulfill their potential. This next week, many of those individuals will be at the State Capitol for People with Disabilities Awareness Day. Like many other groups who have come to the Capitol this session, they’ll want to stress how important their services are when lawmakers are considering appropriations.
As leaders in both chambers work to balance our state budget, we fully understand that the budget cannot be balanced without another round of cuts.
But at the same time, I would urge them to remember the difference that DRS is making in the lives of thousands of Oklahomans, just like Hailey.
Thanks again for reading my “Senate Review.” If you have any questions on a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5555 or writing me with your concerns at: Senator Sean Burrage, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd. Rm. 529-B State Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
I always enjoy hearing from my constituents and consider it an honor to be your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate. May God bless each of you.
Sean Burrage is state senator for District 2.