Introducing our Better Make Room Student Advisory Board Member — Laura Muñoz!
By: Laura Muñoz, Freshman at Brown University
Only one word begins to sum up my visit to the White House for the 2017 School Counselor of the Year Ceremony: Wow. Just wow. Wow-to-levels-I’d-never-known about wow. I felt so honored to be in such an iconic place and to be able to witness Mrs. Obama’s final address as First Lady. Watching her reflect on her work so passionately motivated me — I don’t think there was a single person who watched her who wasn’t deeply moved. She made me believe that grassroots, on the ground change is not only effective, it is vital. She made me believe that making your dreams come true is possible — she is a perfect example of that. She made me believe that often all we have is hope, and that hope sometimes has to be enough to keep moving forward.
“I couldn’t help but think ‘I got myself a seat at the table.’”
At the SCOY Ceremony, I learned that change does not have to happen through complicated, rigid, and often slow-moving bureaucracies and institutions. Change often best takes place when it happens on the ground, by individuals who are truly invested in an issue and put in hours and hours to make progress happen. I’m honored to be one of those people. I’ll admit when I found out I’d been selected as a Student Advisory Board member I was ecstatic, but I hadn’t quite realized the scope and magnitude of Better Make Room until the ceremony, and later that evening, at the team orientation. As we eagerly sat in one of the war rooms of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with our official BMR binders, I couldn’t help but think “I got myself a seat at the table.” It was in that moment when I finally realized the scope and importance of the work that the seventeen of us would be responsible for doing when we left that room. It was an exhilarating and terrifying feeling, as all the best ones are.
“Change often best takes place when it happens on the ground, by individuals who are truly invested in an issue and put in hours and hours to make progress happen.”
While speaking to the other board members, the Better Make Room staff, and the many devoted, incredible professionals who attended the ceremony I learned that connecting with others is crucial to bring about change. I realized if I want to be an effective change-maker I must create a network of people who will help me and guide me — college advisors, school counselors, teacher, administrators, high school students, and college students from all backgrounds. If I do so, I know I can realize the vision I have for Better Make Room.
“I want students who have traditionally been left behind or forgotten by the school system to stand proudly and say “I am capable” as they work to achieve their goals and to say “I belong here” when they accomplish them.”
My hope is that through the programs and campaigns I create, students of all identities and stories can know that higher education is for them, too. I want first-generation, low-income, students of color to know they are capable of achieving whatever they set their minds to so long as they are persistent and diligent, and that there is an expansive community of supporters all over the country rooting for them. I want students who have traditionally been left behind or forgotten by the school system to stand proudly and say “I am capable” as they work to achieve their goals and to say “I belong here” when they accomplish them. This is what Better Make Room means to me. I am eager to do the work over the next year to make this vision a reality for students all over the country.
Laura Muñoz is from Miami, Florida and is a freshman at Brown University. She is the freshman liaison for First-Gens@Brown and the freshman representative for the Latin American Student Organization at Brown. In high school, she was member of the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society and founded and directed her school’s National Honor Society Mentoring Initiative, which supports eighth graders in their transition to high school. She is a Cuban woman, a Miami girl, a believer in the endless power of dreams, a relentless list-maker, a daughter of immigrants, a mentor, a feminist, a budding Historian, and a Brunonian. Laura is a believer in the profound influence of education and a lover of knowledge.