What brought you here?

I came here because I heard about it through Twitter. I follow the City of Huntington. I run one of the school’s media pages on Twitter. So I saw it through that. And I also heard about it through my Government teacher. He encouraged us all to come.

What did you think?

I think it’s very hopeful. I think everybody who came here really and truly does want to make a change. I think people really want to see things happen. And I think really action is going to be made. I can see it. I can feel it. It’s not just talk. So that’s exciting and inspirational. I’m glad I came just to see that there are people who really do want to make a difference.

What did you talk about?

Probably the biggest thing we talked about was education and the importance of a solid educational program and how that flows into every single aspect of the community—job creation, tourism, everything. Because this is a college town and it has to be embraced that way. We have to make sure we are facilitating a college town and facilitating professional development, as well as skill development. That’s probably the biggest theme of the night is how can we make education experiential, how can we make education matter?

What’s your vision for Huntington’s future?

I really want Huntington to be seen as a unique, quirky college town where we have small businesses everywhere, vibrant small business—eccentric, almost. Something fascinating and dazzling that will draw people here. Something that’s unique. That’s what I see Huntington as. So if we could really broaden and use the college as our heart and soul of Huntington, I think that would really be important.

What about the future of West Virginia?

I think one of the largest problems is we kind of have this focus on coal, and this focus on this one economical thing we have. But there’s so much more. Coal is important, it’s vital. But there’s also so much more that we can offer the United States. There’s so much more that we can offer the world. So we really have to broaden our focus. We really have to broaden our horizons to see that we can be a contributing state, not just in one area of our resources.