U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona Meets with AAI and SOEHS Faculty and Students During His Campus Visit
On September 5, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona launched his multi-state, “Back to School Bus Tour 2023: Raise the Bar,” at KU with a pep rally at the Jayhawk Welcome Center. Secretary Cardona’s visit to campus focused on diversity, access to education, and family engagement, specifically emphasizing federal TRIO programs' roles in addressing these issues.
TRIO programs are federal outreach and student services programs that provide services for students from underserved backgrounds such as first-generation and low-income students. All of KU’s TRIO programs, which include the TRIO McNair Scholars program, TRIO SES & STEM, TRIO Upward Bound, TRIO Upward Bound Math & Science Program, TRIO Talent Search, TRIO EOC, and more, are housed under AAI’s Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP). CEOP is dedicated to providing support to students, families, adult learners, and veterans in their academic, financial, social and career goals.
Cardona said that one of the reasons he kicked off the tour at KU was to celebrate TRIO SES’ (TRIO SSS) 50th year as a continuously federally funded program at the university. During the visit, Secretary Cardona spent time speaking to TRIO students and other students receiving support from CEOP about their experiences under the programs, learning how students benefit from the services.
“Coming to KU was a culture shock,” one TRIO student said. “TRIO is a supportive program that really immersed me into the college experience and made me feel at home at KU. It’s like a community.”
Secretary Cardona’s remarks emphasized the need for access and equity in higher education, and highlighted TRIO’s role in helping bridge those gaps. Cardona said additional funding is needed to ensure these programs continue to help students succeed.
“TRIO represents the promise of America that shows us that whatever your race or place, whatever your income or aspirations, you get a chance to build a better future for yourself through education, the great equalizer,” Secretary Cardona said during his remarks. “The promise that makes us believe that wherever you start out in life, you have a shot at success.”
Cardona also stressed the importance of moving forward and growing rather than reverting to the status quo in education.
“If we go back to the same systems we had before, we are failing our students. It’s on us to raise the bar. So, let’s raise the bar for academic excellence. All students deserve a comprehensive, rigorous education and a highly qualified teacher in every classroom.”
“It was an amazing honor to have Secretary Cardona visit our campus and to have him publicly recognize the importance of TRIO’s impact on student success at KU. Having the opportunity to serve TRIO students for more than 20 years at KU, I know first-hand that TRIO works!” said Gretchen Heasty, Director of KU’s TRIO SES & STEM.
“Secretary Cardona took time to visit one-on-one with some of our TRIO SES & STEM and TRIO McNair students, to ask them about their experiences, and to get their feedback on what we can do better to support students from first-generation and high financial-need backgrounds. Students shared how important this moment was for them. They related with Secretary Cardona on a personal level and had an opportunity to provide advice on how to improve educational opportunities on a larger scale.”
The Secretary also spoke with members of the School of Education and Human Sciences including Dean Rick Ginsberg and multiple Achievement & Assessment Institute researchers and directors, including AAI Director and University Distinguished Professor Neal Kingston, FLITE Director and Williamson Family Distinguished Professor in Special Education Lisa Dieker, CEOP Director Ngondi Kamaṱuka, and more.