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The Program Behind This Math Major


“He’s going to Michigan to get his Ph.D. in engineering. If he can do it, then why can’t I?”

Jesse SmithUniversity of Maryland-Baltimore County

As part of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC, which seeks to promote diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, Jesse Smith started his freshman year with a peer mentor, another African-American man pursuing a STEM major. Now Mr. Smith, a rising junior studying math and computer science, hopes to advise incoming students too. …

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A Queer Male Student Shares ‘Human Face’ of Campus Sexual Assault


“As a queer student survivor, I would say that there are some policies that I’ve seen that have been a lot better than others.”

John KellyTufts University

When John Kelly, now a rising senior at Tufts University, reported a sexual assault to administrators there, he was disappointed with the outcome of the disciplinary process. As an activist with Know Your IX—a national campaign to educate students about their rights under the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX—he is now updating …

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From the Fields to Washington, the Son of Farmworkers Becomes an Advocate


“People misjudge at times the farmworker, especially the illegal farmworker.”

Yonny CastilloWillamette University

During summers growing up, Yonny Castillo would join his parents, immigrant farmworkers from Mexico, out in the fields, picking blueberries to help provide for his family. This summer Mr. Castillo, a rising junior at Willamette, will intern for the advocacy group Farmworker Justice, where he hopes to focus on such issues as poor working conditions and low pay.

About this series: Sa…

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To Fight the Stigma Around Mental Illness, a Student Shares Her Story


“It’s really important to remember that being open about mental health is a huge deal. That’s what changes things.”

Trisha LuengenUniversity of Wisconsin at Madison

Trisha Luengen, 21, thought she had her depression and suicidal thoughts under control—until she got to college. After seeking help, she joined Ask.Listen.Save, a suicide-prevention group on the campus. This year she organized a suicide-prevention walk, during which she told her story to nearly 500 people to raise awareness and try…

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Why Not Try the Place With the Palm Trees?


“My mind started racing with … Wow, this just opened a thousand more doors than I thought.”

Maija CruzStanford University

Maija Cruz trained to become an Olympic figure skater until she was 15 and a car accident left her aunt a quadriplegic. Ms. Cruz stopped training—and, eventually, home schooling—to work and care for her family. But at 19 she enrolled in adult high school at Milwaukee Area Technical College, eventually earning a diploma and an associate degree. Now 27, she will graduate …

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Mobilizing to Reduce Disparities in Health Care


“We actually discovered that we were going to be able to get this family covered.”

Nick GoodwinEmory University

Studying abroad in Italy, Nick Goodwin became interested in disparities in the health-care system in the United States relative to other countries’. Back at Emory University, he created the Resource & Insurance Navigator Group, or RING, for students to connect underserved local families with social and medical resources, such as helping them apply for insurance under the Affordable C…

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A Science Student Talks Her Way Onto the Model UN Team


“I was really interested in understanding how chemistry could fit into the puzzle of these societal interactions.”

Yemi MelkaAugsburg College

As a ninth grader in her native Ethiopia, Yemi Melka had to choose between studying science and social science. Now, on a college campus in Minnesota, she has found a way to combine her interests in chemistry and international relations, including through Model UN.

About this series: Say Something collects stories from college students about what they’…

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In South Africa, an AIDS Orphan Becomes a Scholar

“Life hasn’t exactly dealt me the easiest of cards, but I’ve always tried to be a focused individual.”

Andile Justice MkontoHult International Business School

Growing up in South Africa, Andile Justice Mkonto dropped out of school at age 13 to care for his mother, who had AIDS. When she died, he says, he lost his way, running away from home and using drugs. With support from the Ubuntu Education Fund, he refocused his life and is now an undergraduate at Hult International Business School, in L…

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For ‘Dreamers,’ In-State Tuition Can Mean Staying in College

The momentum didn’t really come out until the Dreamers started actually taking initiative and speaking for themselves.”

Giancarlo TelloRutgers University at Newark

Giancarlo Tello, whose family came to New Jersey from Peru when he was 6, is the campaign chair of a youth-led coalition that successfully lobbied last year for a state law allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to pay lower in-state tuition rates. Mr. Tello had dropped out of Rutgers, unable to afford the out-of-stat…

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A Student’s Slam Poem Goes Viral

That’s one thing I really love that poetry can do, is that it can bring these ideas together.”

Lily MyersWesleyan University

While home for winter break in 2012, Lily Myers channeled her frustrations about family dynamics involving gender, body image, and food into a poem, “Shrinking Women,” that she performed last spring at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational. The poem, in which she says she starts many questions in class with “Sorry,” has been viewed more than three million times on…