Regardless of race or economic status, students should have the opportunity to fulfill their potentials, said several speakers, including U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo, DFL-Minn, on Saturday at Green Hall on the St. Paul campus.
The speeches, given to an audience of about 40 students, marked the end of the Twin Cities portion of a summer program for teenagers called “Upward Bound Vision Quest.” This week, the program continues at the Duluth campus.
The program, which strongly emphasizes staying in school, allows a group of high school students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have strong academic records to get a jump on preparing for college. The students, ages 13 to 17, attend classes in math, English, Ojibwe and leadership training.
The speakers focused on the idea that, though students may not realize it, they possess power over the political process and their own lives.
Nancy Barcelo, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, Minority Affairs and Diversity, said the success of these students who “weren’t supposed to make it,” is the way to a better future for all of us.
State Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, told students about a group of young women who won the fight to change the name of Squaw Lake, near the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota. This, she said, was an example of “the power of young people to change laws.”
Sabo, who is an advocate for the program’s continued funding, encouraged students to stay in school and work hard, adding that what these kids accomplish can have a great “impact on country and community.”
After the speeches, Sabo and several teachers in the program received awards of appreciation.
“It’s good to know someone’s fighting for us,” said program participant Katy Parry, 15.