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Celebrating the First in Family to Go to College

Valerie Jarrett speaks at the graduation ceremony of the very first graduating class of KIPP DC College Preparatory School.

Today, I was honored to speak at the graduation ceremony of the very first graduating class of KIPP DC College Preparatory School.

KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of college-preparatory public charter schools. KIPP DC College Preparatory School is the highest performing, open-enrollment high school in Washington, D.C., where 85% of students will be the first in their families to go to college and 100% of the class was admitted to college.

I shared with the graduates my advice about my college experience, including the value of exploration, standing tall, and protecting one’s reputation.

And I felt so inspired and encouraged by seeing the bright young members of the class of 2013 so proudly walk across the stage.

President Obama and his Administration are committed to ensuring young people have the same opportunity to access quality education, compete on an even playing field, and attend college.

President Obama has challenged every American to commit to higher education, including setting a new goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.  The graduating class of 2013 is helping America achieve that goal.

The President’s education initiatives helped aspiring college students make their dreams a reality. President Obama is currently urging action on student loan interest rates so they do not double on July 1, 2013, which would make college less affordable, and out of reach for millions of students and families.

Millions of students lack access to the high-speed broadband internet that supports learning technology. It is for that reason that President Obama is unveiling a bold, new initiative called ConnectED, which will connect 99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years.

As President Obama said in the State of the Union this year, America is not a place where the chance of birth, or circumstance, should decide our destiny.  Earlier this spring, President Obama announced proposals that create ladders of opportunity, including providing access to high-quality early childhood education, and revitalizing neighborhoods so young people have a safe place to grow up and learn.

It is these kinds of initiatives that will help the next generation – but every American can help, from volunteering at their local public school, mentoring a student, or helping run an after school program. Together, we can build a future where every child has the chance to learn, grow, thrive, and go to college.