Rogers High School Student to Meet Federal Lawmakers, Lobby for Education Programs
NY Times blogger credits U of A program with preparing her for collegeThursday, March 14, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Chandler Buckingham, a senior at Rogers High School, will start her spring break with a working trip to Washington, D.C.
She plans to meet with U.S. Rep. Steve Womack and Sen. John Boozman, both from Rogers, as well as Sen. Mark Pryor to talk about the federal budget, the sequestration and, specifically, the Educational Talent Search program.
Educational Talent Search is one of the federally funded TRiO programs administered by the University of Arkansas and other schools across the country. The programs aim to help low-income and first-generation college students succeed in high school, prepare for college, get admitted and ultimately graduate. Under the current sequestration law, all of the TRiO programs face 5 percent budget cuts in the fall, which will mean fewer students getting services.
Buckingham is among the more than 2,200 students served by the University of Arkansas Talent Search Programs in its office of diversity affairs, and one of more than 363,000 nationwide in the Educational Talent Search program. She’s unique in this group, however, because she writes about the program in a regular blog in the New York Times online edition. She is one of eight students in the world writing in “The Choice” blog about their experiences as high school seniors as they prepare to go off to college.
In late November she wrote about the way the Talent Search program helped her prepare to take the ACT test.
“I was never concerned about getting accepted into college; my unease has always stemmed from how to obtain the means to pay for college,” she wrote.
To win a Governor’s Distinguished Scholarship she needed a 32 score on her ACT. The first three times she took the test, she scored 31.
“As the daughter of a single parent, it is very difficult to pay to take the ACT so many times,” she wrote. “Every time you sign up, it costs $35. I have had the luxury of retesting four times only because I am a part of Educational Talent Search. This program helps low-income kiddos (like me!) to have a better opportunity to attend college.
“For example, before I took my first ACT, Educational Talent Search bought me a book to use for studies. They also paid for me to take three of my four tests. They offered a free ACT prep class, which helped immensely…. For the week or two preceding the test day, I finished my homework as quickly as possible and then sat down to study. Then, the morning of the ACT, I prayed and prayed for the ability to focus. I prayed again during every break.”
She scored a 34.
Buckingham’s U of A Talent Search adviser, Whitney Srsen, saw the blog entry. She brought it to the attention of the Council for Opportunity in Education, a lobbying group that supports TRiO programs. The group alerted Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who read the blog and he tweeted about it. In late January, as the sequestration battle heated up, the council invited Buckingham to Washington to meet with the Arkansas congressional delegation, all expenses paid.
She flies to the capital Sunday, March 17, will go to Capitol Hill the next day, and return home on Wednesday.
“I’m very excited about the chance to tell my story to Congressman Womack, Senator Boozman, and Senator Pryor,” she said. “I hope it will resonate with them, Congressman Womack and Senator Boozman especially, since they are both based in Rogers, and know Rogers High School and the people here so well. I hope my visit will make a difference.”
Buckingham will be traveling with Srsen, who was in a TRiO program, Upward Bound Math and Science Academy, whileat Greenland High School. She went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Arkansas and now works in the U of A Talent Search programs, helping more students pursue a college education.
Whitney Srsen, academic counselor
Talent Search Programs
Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
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