Equity in Education: Empowering First-Generation Students to Succeed

November 9, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski

>>Gia Truong: Equity in education
to me means that young people, especially those that are most impacted
by inequity, have a strong sense of self, how they’re
connected to the world, and feel empowered to change the world.>>Teacher: Once you’ve
got your peer eds done–>>Gia Truong: I am originally from
Vietnam and I came to the United States when I was seven with my family and I
spoke very little English at that time. I discovered that language and
education are transformative. And for me and my family
it was about survival. So, my first day of high
school I was extremely excited, because we moved into
a new neighborhood. I came from a pretty
poor working class area and I thought it was a new beginning.>>Teacher: All right. So, take a look at this
screen real quick.>>Gia Truong: And the first day of
school– it was a geography class– and the teacher said,
“Everyone introduce yourself and tell us where you’re born.” My heart dropped. I was terrified that people would
know that I’m not from this country. And I remember thinking to
myself I hated this country because I don’t belong and
then most of all I hated myself for not having the courage
to be who I am. That moment really informed what
I wanted to do for young people.>>Gia Truong: I came to Envision, because I wanted to impact
a whole system.>>Gia Truong: How are you
feeling about being here?>>Gia Truong: We serve mostly
first-generation college-bound students, mostly low-income African-American
and Latino students and they have so many assets. They’re resilient. They are smart. But they do face a lot of challenges. They feel very responsible for their
survival of their family and they come from environments where not
very much is expected of them. But they come and they realize
this is a whole new world. At Envision our teachers
push our students to excel and they believe in them. So, when you are just around
that, you then believe in it, too. I’m just really proud that eighty
percent of our students are accepted to four-year college, right? A hundred percent of them are
accepted to two- or four-year college. I mean, I just think that’s fantastic.>>Student: You know, I’m always big
on leadership and finding myself and I found myself through poetry and
all the workshops and projects here.>>Gia Truong: And I think that our environment brings
that out of them, right? They can be free to like school. They can be open to rigorous academics. They can challenge themselves. They can do what other people think
that is impossible for them to do.