Student Voices: If You Feel Like You Belong, You Can Achieve Anything

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April 18, 2016

If most of us think back to our college years, there will probably be just a few educators who stand out as making a profound difference in our lives. The teacher, professor, counselor or advisor who invested a little extra time and attention to help us along the sometimes uncertain college journey. For minority students, the road is often rockier because of language barriers, cultural differences and lack of familial support.

Tuyet Tran Vietnamese student studying Biochemistry at University of Texas at Austin
Photo of Tuyet Tran courtesy of US Dept. of Ed Joshua Hoover

Tuyet Tran, a Vietnamese student studying Biochemistry at University of Texas at Austin is working toward a career in Anesthesiology. She is also a student ambassador for Student Voices,’ a collaborative for Asian and Pacific Islanders at the Department of Education where students engage with senior staff members to help develop recommendations on education programs and policies.

Last week, Secretary of Education, John King and Under Secretary Ted Mitchell met for a session with Student Voices in Washington D.C.One of the topics Sec. King discussed with students was the idea of “belonging.”

Many of the students said the most significant thing that made a difference during college was having one unique relationship with a teacher, professor or advisor that enabled them to feel they “belonged.” Having even one person take time to listen, work alongside them and help navigate the college system made a big difference in their college experience.

The candid feedback from students helped Sec. King realize the need to improve high school and early college counseling and advising. Secretary King emphasized that the Dept. of Education is attempting to increase funding to prepare more counselors at the high school and early college levels.

“Secretary King ensured that our voices were not only heard, but that we felt like belonged in such a space to be able to share our personal journeys and recommendations,” said one of the students.

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