Why Sen. Emily Randall Says Liberal Arts Education Is More Relevant than Ever

Senator Emily Randall

With a focus on expanding educational opportunities for all Washingtonians, Sen. Emily Randall visited The Evergreen State College Wednesday,  Sept. 11, where she met with the college’s Board of Trustees and toured the campus.

“I am so grateful for partners like Evergreen, working on big changes to our world that make it better for all of us,” Randall said.

She believes the liberal arts and sciences education that students can access at Evergreen will play a key role in shaping Washington’s future -- producing leaders who can think and problem-solve across disciplines and industries.

“While certainly we need more skilled labor and folks working in the trades, the idea that a four-year degree and particularly a liberal arts degree is ‘over’ is wrong,” she told the Evergreen board. “Students need to be able to learn to learn.”

Randall, who studied Spanish language and gender studies at Wellesley, credits her own liberal arts education with her ability to affect Washington state politics. 

“I don’t always use every single class in every aspect of my life or career,” said Randall. “But the way I learned to do research and connect topics and think critically and look at problems is something that I’m so grateful for and something that I want more students to be able to access.” 

During her visit, Randall met with representatives of Evergreen’s Sustainability in Prisons Project, its Longhouse Indigenous Arts Campus, and its Veterans Resource Center.   

Randall was born and raised on the Kitsap Peninsula. Growing up in Port Orchard, Randall says she learned the value of education from her parents and her teachers.

Her dad worked at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and her mom started a career as a paraeducator when she was in high school.

As the first in her family to attend a four-year college, Randall knows how important it is to make the path to higher education more accessible. 

In 2018, she was one of the first openly gay women elected to the Senate. Latina and a first-generation college graduate, she has used her position in the legislature to advocate for access and equity in education.

She serves on several important committees -- she is Vice Chair of the Senate Health & Long Term Care committee; Acting Chair of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development committee; and a member of the Senate Transportation Committee.

The visit was part of an ongoing tour of the state’s colleges and universities for the Democrat,  who represents the 26th District, including Gig Harbor, Port Orchard and parts of Bremerton.

Randall recently helped pass HB 2158, which increased financial support for low-income Washington students pursuing degrees in the state. 

“There is so much that we can do to build a system that works better for people, that better serves them, that removes systemic obstructions to the life that we all dream of here in Washington,” said Randall. 

And that’s something she hopes she can help more students attain through her continued work in Washington’s legislature to improve access to higher education for all Washingtonians.