Takeaways from the White House Town Hall on Educational Excellence for African Americans

By Mitzi Rosales

I recently had the opportunity to attend The White House Town Hall on Educational Excellence for African Americans. It was an amazing experience as8 students shared advice with the audience consisting of teachers, advisers, and high school students. As an aspiring college counselor, I always enjoy opportunities like this because it helps me grow professionally and further my knowledge on how to better assist students. I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from this event for the benefit of all College Advising Corps advisers. Here are three insights that we should all consider in our work with students.

1. A question that emerged was “What can we as teachers and advisers do to support students in school and help prepare them for college?” The students mentioned that they would like to have someone they can relate to. They want this person to show understanding and patience. They also mentioned that they would like to have more participation from parents, as well as someone to listen and support them. “If we can’t find support at home, we seek it in you,” said one student. The students expressed that having someone there to support and genuinely care for them, makes them feel like they matter and that they are capable of achieving their academic goals. This really hit home for me.

2. Another question raised was, “Did someone support you through your high school to college transition?” Each of the students had an adviser or teacher who really supported and pushed them to succeed. I definitely related to these comments because I had one person who really advocated and supported me (my college counselor, Mrs. Corona). She made sure I applied to universities and submitted everything on time. There is incredible power in having at least one person support you. Let’s try to be that person to our students.

3. The panel also spoke about the importance of dreams. As a high school student, when someone asked me what my dream was, I had no idea. At the time, it was too big of a question for me. I did not know how to answer because I had not thought about it. As I began my academic journey at California State University Long Beach, I identified what I wanted to accomplish and what my ultimate dreams were. Having big dreams helped me reach for the stars. This is why it is important to ask students this question and also help them set their goals and expectations high. We have to dream big in order to achieve big things.

Overall, it was a great experience. There were a couple of times when I got teary-eyed. It was an honest and engaging panel. I look forward to implementing some of the students’ suggestions and I hope other advisers throughout the Corps can do the same!

Mitzi Rosales recently graduated from California State University, Long Beach. She now serves as a USC College Advising Corps adviser at David Starr Jordan High School in Long Beach.