At Aki Kurose Middle School, our morning circle came with a twist when one of our corps members said that Governor Christine Gregoire was coming today. The Governor at my school? I was a little skeptical at first, but my program manager confirmed that the Governor would hold a press conference and meet with students. Four other City Year corps members and I were lucky enough to attend the press conference and greet the distinguished guests visiting our school.
The event was an exciting experience, especially to see our eighth graders standing next to the Governor and her Higher Education Funding Task Force as they unveiled their new strategy for higher education. Many of the students attending the event were not on my focus list, but I recognized all of them. Some looked nervous to be standing in the same room as the Governor with cameras everywhere. But most of them were camera ready: very natural, composed – just happy and proud to be part of this occasion.
Each of the students had prepared statements about their future aspirations and one of them was even able to share her dream of becoming an architect. She spoke of her love of math and how it ties into her chosen profession. I also learned that the older brother of one of my focus list students is interested in becoming a neurosurgeon. It was exciting to learn something new about students that I don’t always get the chance to interact with.
The best part of the press conference was the Governor’s address to the students. She turned to the students next to her and told them that with the steps laid out in the action plan, money should not be an issue when those students start applying for college. The goal of the plan is to provide low and middle income students with the opportunity to pursue higher education so they can achieve their dreams to become architects and neurosurgeons. That promise stuck with me because I know it will have a huge impact on my students and their ambitions.
After the event was over, I received the opportunity to meet Governor Gregoire and talk a little bit about my experience at Aki Kurose. She was amazed that our corps members are from all over the United States, and she was appreciative of our work. City Year corps member Desiree Robinette was able to connect with the Governor as a product of Seattle Public Schools, an alumna of the University of Washington, and a first-generation college student who is now working hard every day in Seattle Public Schools to ensure that more students can graduate from high school and face a better future.
Governor Gregoire’s press conference was a great experience. Most of my students aspire to attend an institution of higher learning, and with a little help from City Year, they are working hard in their classes to get to that point. I am glad that their hard work will not be blocked by financial hardships when it is their turn to graduate from high school and attend college!
Photo by Natalie Champ