Why I’m at the White House today:
by Manuel Contreras
When I stepped onto Brown University’s campus for my first semester, I wasn’t ready.
I’m the son of two Mexican immigrants, and the first in my family to go to college. During my freshman year, though, I felt surprisingly out of place — I had worked hard to get there, but so many of my classmates came from wealthy families, were better-read, and seemed more prepared. And at a few points, I felt like I didn’t actually deserve to be at Brown.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m now a rising senior, ready to get my diploma. Because I was able to connect with other people who had shared my experience and gotten through it, as well as professors and advisors who went out of their way to help me, I’ve learned how to feel comfortable in the uncertainty.
That’s why I’m at the White House today for the First Lady’s “Beating the Odds” summit — an event that will take a look at how we can help more students who are just like me successfully transition to college and give them the tools and resources they need to finish their higher education.
At the summit, First Lady Michelle Obama will host more than 130 college-bound students from across America. These students come from all walks of life — urban, rural, foster homes, homeless, special needs, and other underrepresented areas.
But they all have one thing in common: They’ve all overcome substantial challenges and obstacles to get through high school and make it to college.
For every student who’s made it onto a college campus, though, there are far too many others who just don’t have the support and the tools they need to get to the next level.
As the First Lady said earlier this year, “We simply cannot afford to lose out on the potential of even one young person. We cannot allow even one more young person to fall through the cracks.”
So let’s do everything we can to prevent more kids from falling through the cracks. All too often, you hear the phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Let’s do everything we can to make that “way” possible for more kids across our country.