We are so proud that “I Have a Dream” Foundation Dreamers were invited to the White House to meet with Michelle Obama and attend the Beating the Odds Summit.
The event brought together about 130 students from across the country who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their journey to college. The students were selected to participate through college access organizations that are part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative. The objective of the Beating the Odds Summit was to discuss ways in which policymakers can improve efforts to help low-income first generation students get to and through college. Two of our Dreamers were selected to participate: Marlen Ramirez from Boulder and Chelsea Bueno from the Ravenswood program in New York City. In addition, Donna Lawrence, CEO of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation, and Maritza Guzman, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships, were invited to attend.
Black Enterprise magazine quoted Donna Lawrence as saying:
“The summit was incredibly encouraging. The first lady spoke of her own experience coming from a low-income family and about her struggles getting through college. She encouraged the students by telling them that they had every reason to succeed in school — that if she could do it, they could do it too.
You could feel her commitment to this issue — this is not a political moment in time for her. She also spoke of the importance of being an active citizen and of how there are opportunities today because of concrete policies that have been passed. She urged the students not to take it for granted, but to become involved, active citizens and vote. It was a compelling message for young people to hear.”
Chelsea Bueno from “I Have A Dream” Foundation – New York Metro Area Ravenswood program in New York City grew up in public housing in Long Island City before moving to Jamaica, Queens, where she attended George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences. After her move, Chelsea often commuted almost an hour to attend academic enrichment programs sponsored by “I Have A Dream.” She has earned a full-ride scholarship to attend Manhattanville College. Chelsea has always been interested in public service, as well as the medical professions, and is interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapist.
Politico wrote: “To get to college, the students were helped by dozens of nonprofits along the way, such as the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation. Student Marlen Ramirez, of Boulder, Colorado, said the foundation provided her with tutors and mentors, along with the use of an online scholarship search program. All that hard work paid off with an acceptance at the University of North Colorado. Without the help, Ramirez said, ‘I would not have known anything about it, because I’m a first generation student.’”
Beating the Odds Summit Video
President Obama surprises guests at Beating the Odds Summit 2015
Mathew Tyler Oakley (known as Tyler Oakley), an American YouTube and podcast personality, humorist, author, and activist, wrote this article about the Beating the Odds Summit series and his own journey to to first generation college degree for the Flotus Medium blog.