Participation in the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) has proven to be a transformative experience for Columbia State students, providing them with valuable insights into the intricacies of government and fostering a deep appreciation for civic engagement. Annaleisa Matzirakis, a Columbia State student, expressed her conviction, stating, "I truly believe that the TISL experience provided me and my fellow delegates with valuable insight on how our government works and how elaborate our legislative processes really are."
The annual TISL General Assembly, held at the Historic Tennessee State Capitol in Downtown Nashville, serves as a four-day conclave for engaged and policy-minded college students from across the state. With over 400 students in attendance, representing more than 40 colleges and universities, this gathering constitutes an impressive 95% representation of Tennessee college students.
Established in 1966, TISL's Senate and House of Representatives convene each November in the legislative chambers of the State Capitol. Reese Harrub, another Columbia State student, emphasized the impact of TISL on his understanding of government operations, stating, "TISL helped me discover that there were lots of other students like me, who were interested in the workings of government and what it could do. It taught me about the mechanics of doing things like writing bills, working with committees, and voting on them."
The diverse range of experiences offered by TISL is evident in the roles undertaken by Columbia State students. Annaleisa Matzirakis served as an editor/reporter and media still photographer, while Rodney Bakken II represented the House of Representatives, specifically the standing committee on commerce and labor. Lake Bates assumed the role of lobbyist, focusing on lobbying firm business in Tennessee. Reese Harrub served as a member of the House of Representatives, specializing in the standing committee on broadcast. Jaeden Kennedy took on the role of a senator, contributing to the standing committee on general health & wellness. Lydia Knobloch, representing the House of Representatives, played a crucial role in the standing committee on state and local government II.
Lydia Knobloch reflected on her experience, stating, "I was able to be one of the House of Representatives at TISL. I learned so much about how our government works and expanded my legislative knowledge at this immersive mock trial experience. TISL was not only an extremely rewarding experience but has guided me towards what I want to do in my future, and for that, I’m truly grateful."
Columbia State, one of three community colleges among the 26 schools in attendance, showcased a strong presence across the legislative, lobbying, and media components of TISL. The students researched and submitted bills and resolutions addressing various issues, such as banning billboards in Tennessee, requiring a valid TN Auctioneers License for online auctions, and designating the Moon Pie as the official dessert of the state.
At the culmination of the joint session, Jaeden Kennedy received the prestigious Outstanding Senator award, adding to the accolades earned by Columbia State students during this impactful TISL experience. Kennedy remarked, "TISL was one for the books. It was so incredible meeting everyone at TISL, and the relationships made will forever be cherished! I am beyond honored to have been recognized as Outstanding Senator. I cannot wait to see you all next year!" The success of Columbia State students at TISL not only underscores their commitment to civic engagement but also showcases the effectiveness of the program in shaping informed and empowered leaders for the future.