By Shay Burk, Hastings Tribune
HASTINGS – Be passionate, yet disciplined, and stick to your beliefs.
That was the advice State Senator Steve Halloran gave to the students of St. Cecilia High School in Hastings during a special visit Feb. 20.
Halloran, who graduated from St. Cecilia in 1966, is serving in his first year as a member of the Nebraska Legislature representing District 33, which includes all of Adams County and Hastings.
The Legislature had a holiday break for President’s Day, giving Halloran the chance to eat lunch with St. Cecilia students in the cafeteria.
“Still great food,” Halloran told the students in Centennial Hall. “My fondest memories are the days when we had chili and cinnamon rolls. Can’t beat it.”
Halloran responded to questions from students asked through a moderator, starting with topics about their school and his days there.
“There are a lot of great memories,” he said... “the school itself and the nature of the school,” he said.
Halloran named some of the religious sisters and other staff members he remembered from his high school days.
Much of who he is today, Halloran said was formed in those days of Catholic school.
“I had a lot of good nuns and priests make sure I started forming a conscience at a young age,” he said. “Virtues aren’t something you come by naturally. You train into that. I thank God for what they did for me.”
He said those virtues are something Halloran has carried throughout his life and into his first year as a state senator.
When it came to running for the Legislature, Halloran said it wasn’t divine inspiration but the influence of friends and family and his own frustrations that led to the decision.
“I got tired of throwing my shoe at the TV and sometimes you just have to step forward,” he said.
In his advice to the students, Halloran said they need to be passionate about whatever path they take in life.
“Focus on excelling. Don’t just get by,” he said. “Be supportive of people you work with. Be supportive of your employer.”
As for entering politics, Halloran said the Legislature might not be the best place for a young person considering the salary is only $12,000 a year.
“Because it’s such low pay, there is a preponderance of old men and women like me down there who are far enough along that they can afford to do something like this and not jeopardize their living, unlike a younger person,” he said.
Instead, Halloran encouraged them to run for a national office like representative to the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives or a local office.
“There are levels of politics at the local level you should seriously look at like school boards and county board of supervisors,” he said. “It’s a wealth of experience.”