Student Leadership 2014: Prince George County, MD-Washington, DC

Student Leadership Middle College National Consortium style is bearing down towards DC. An army of youth-warriors are set to tackle issues of Social Justice across the nation and they are aiming to be heard. After last year’s breakthrough conference in Columbus, Ohio where our students asked the question, “What makes a healthy community?” they wanted to address some of the ills they had uncovered with well designed plans and clear action. Social Justice was the theme they selected; political action to assess, inform and increase college access for all high school students is their mission.

Currently 20 youngsters-sophomores and juniors from the Academy of Health Sciences in Prince George County, MD are working with two history professors, Normand Lambert and Cornell Mickens, planning activities for the 200+ peers who will arrive in Maryland in the Spring. Students are focused on a variety of social justice issues which touch their lives and hearts: bullying, human trafficking, violence, poverty, gender equity and racial and religious discrimination. What these conversations lead them to understand is there is a common thread to most social injustice: lack of education by both victim and perpetrator. Students will examine how the Early/Middle College opportunity and experience: rigor and challenge with support and contact with a college environment changed their self efficacy and aspirations to complete their post secondary education and move onto fulfilling careers. Realizing that education opened doors to them and also made them more tolerant of one anothers’ beliefs, lifestyles and traditions will fuel their efforts to reach out to politicians in their local and national legislatures with the message that opportunity in this country must be open to all .

The Conference, taking place April 30-May 4 will include an Arts Exchange, trips to the Capitol, Monuments, Museums and Newseum. The highlight will be the opportunity for each student to take a photo with a member of their home district after delivering a short appeal to address more opportunities for college access in high school for all. Students from each of our Middle and Early Colleges will work with local representatives to understand current bills under consideration in their local and national legislatures that increase support for an early college/dual credit experience for all high school students. In the end, we all know that the solution that most critically impacts social justice is education and that access is determined, in most cases by location, fluency, education history, poverty, etc.

MCNC supports efforts to prepare students coming to the conference through it’s web based platform: MCNC Youth Voices2014@facebook.com. A closed group facilitated by Megan Lee, an MCNC graduate and Terry Born, the community hosts weekly forums, arts exchanges and oversees the completion of research, organization and communication tasks that are at the heart of the Leadership Initiative. This year, we will also build a Web-Exchange that will track and make available current Policy and Programs in each of our MCNC Communities so that students and Advisors can get the national perspective about EC Access for All.

For more information about the program, the conference and the on line communities: contact: tborn39396 (at) aol.com