Introducing our Better Make Room Student Advisory Board Member — Taylor Vidmar!

By: Taylor Vidmar, first year at Richland Community College

It was the greatest honor of my life to attend the 2017 School Counselor of the Year Ceremony at the White House in January. As a child growing up in a small town, I thought that I could achieve great things if I read voraciously, craved knowledge, and worked unbelievably hard to get to where I wanted to be. When I had the indescribable privilege to set foot in the White House, I really, sincerely understood that this was the truth. I felt the power of my own education and the inspiration to make other students feel the same.

What I heard and learned at the School Counselor of the Year event was life-changing. Terri Tchorzynski, the 2017 School Counselor of the Year, explained why the work school counselors do to support students and prepare them for higher education is so important. From former Secretaries of Education Arne Duncan and John King, I learned not only about how much progress has been made in education in the past eight years (like record high HS graduation rates and increases in federal Pell Grants) but how much I can — and need — to do to continue that progress in my local schools and communities. Also, throughout the day and later during orientation, I got to know and bond with my fellow board members and hear their stories and ideas. But, most significantly, I was able to hear Mrs. Obama’s amazing final speech as First Lady of the United States.

The former First Lady’s speech was exceptionally inspirational. I watched as she spoke directly to every young person in the country, arguing for the right of every single one of us to reach higher education no matter our economic situation, race, gender, religion, or any other factor. I cried welcome tears of joy knowing that Mrs. Obama’s fight for education was not finished, and especially knowing that I’m part of that fight. While we’ve made much progress, there’s still a long ways to go. That’s where my work with Better Make Room comes in.

As a member of the Better Make Room Student Advisory Board, I want to support and encourage all students, but especially those who begin their journeys in higher education at community colleges, as well as those who come from rural and under-resourced schools and communities. I’m excited to advocate for community colleges and provide community college students with necessary resources and information for the college transfer process.

However, my ultimate goal for my time on the BMR Student Advisory Board is for my fellow students to feel the way I did when listening to Mrs. Obama’s speech: hopeful, reinvigorated, and ready to jump-start their futures.

“Young people, don’t be afraid,” she said. “Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.”

I plan on doing just that, so the world better make room.

Taylor Vidmar is a student at Richland Community College from Assumption, Illinois. She has written for Huffington Post Teen and MTV Founders and also serves as an MTV Campus Ambassador. Growing up in a small town, she always had big dreams for the future. Taylor is passionate about activism, community service, and feminism. She hopes to help end the stigma against community college students and prove that it’s possible to achieve your goals no matter where you come from. In the future, she wants to be a writer or journalist.