BELIEF program empowers high schoolers

Spoken word artist Bobby LeFebre once said that education is liberation and we yearn to be free. Many people are not given that freedom in the land of opportunity. We can empower our generation to obtain that freedom and make a difference.

For many of us students, going to college was never a decision we had trouble making. It was always guaranteed. Sadly, that is not the reality for a large portion of American teenagers.

Poor education and low income make college a narrow road for many students. Some drop out of high school, and even those who stay in school and graduate often don’t look toward higher education.

Passionate Whitworth students Molly Hough, Sergio Jara Arroyos and Macy Olivas, all juniors, saw this as an injustice and decided to do something about it.

Thus, the B.E.L.I.E.F. Conference was born. The acronym stands for: Because Every Life Is Empowering the Future.

The B.E.L.I.E.F. conference is a two-night, three-day college-prep program for 32 Rogers High School students. Students are put through an application process and, if chosen, go through workshops pertaining to college.

They learn about financial aid, how to fill  out college applications, and are mentored by university students.

On the final day, guardians are invited to participate in a workshop about support in the home.

Students often have no voice and are put into unfair situations to continue a generational cycle that forces them to stay in the state of poverty that they were born into.

Hough believes that this is extremely unfair because we are born into un-chosen hierarchies.

“It’s not OK that high school students are being put through crappy public schools,” Hough said.

We can sit here, getting a fancy education, and forget about these people.  However, we forget how much power we have as undergraduates.

“We have the resources, so why aren’t we doing anything about it?” Hough said.

This statement resonates with me because as a Whitworth student, I have a call to serve humanity. These are our neighbors and we have the ability to help them. It is sad to know what the reality is for these teenagers, and to know that their future is at stake.

I sit here in my dorm room taking for granted the opportunity that I have been given to learn. Often I complain about having to wake up for class or do the work. On the flip side, a high school senior dreams of even having the opportunity to go to college.

Some of these kids have so much to offer, but no chance. The road to college is daunting, and often lonely or impossible.

We can help them, though. Through an application process, Whitworth students can sign up to host these Rogers students during the conference.

Students who are chosen after application will serve as mentors to the students and will follow them to workshops, host them and positively pour into their lives by answering questions about college and encouraging them to understand that college is possible.

There is an informational meeting on Nov. 9 in the HUB conference rooms for Whitworth students, where applications will be handed out for the first time. This is a chance to impact a life through encouragement and love. It is a chance to affect these teens in a positive way, and I think we should take advantage of it.

If the conference is successful, those heading up the B.E.L.I.E.F. conference wish to spread it to more high schools in Spokane. Even though the numbers will start out small this year, Whitworth can begin to be a help center for underprivileged students who never dreamed college was an option.

Even if these teens wanted to change their future, they would need help. That is where undergraduates have power.

“We can make some sweet change in some students’ lives,” Hough said.

These students deserve at least a chance — a chance at college, a chance at success and a chance at life. We cannot choose our dispositions in life. They are not less worthy of a future than we are. So let’s believe in them.

Let’s believe we have the power to impact high school students, because we do. Let’s believe these students have a chance at success, because every life is empowering the future.

 

By Remo Omodara

Graphic By Eva Kiviranta

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