[BLANK_AUDIO] Joining me presently in studio, we have our Features Editor, Ms. Lauren Williams, how are you? Good, how are you, Dana? I'm well, thank you so much for joining us back here at Essence Live. Of course. Now you were on site firsthand at the DC Howard Community College and witnessed Firsthand, the discussion on the importance of higher education. Judging from the panel on what we just heard in the clip from Michelle Obama, what do you feel is the main message for the education initiative? So basically, it's all about bridging the gap between highschool and college. Mm-hm. Once upon a time the US led the world in number of people who graduate in college. Today we're number 12. So the first lady is really trying to bridge that gap by 2020. So she's really pressing hard on getting kids right from high school and straight on to college. I also like to that she mentioned there are different options. The first lady mentioned how community college for many can be a better path to the workforce and securing a job after graduation. Can you speak a little bit as to how a community college may offer better or different opportunities than some four year institutions? Of course. Well, college affordability is one of the main factors in determining whether someone will either attend or finish college. I understand that, yes. And community colleges cost thousands of dollars less per year than your traditional four year university. City. Mm-hm. They also offer flexibility. So if you know you want what you wanna do, you can go to a very technical community college, study there for two years, and enter the workforce. Mm-hm. If not, by the time you're finished in two years and you still don't know what you wanna do, you can Transfer those credits to a four year university and continue on. I think it's great to point out that for some occupations, or some career choices, you have to have a secondary degree, an advanced degree, a graduate degree. Going to a community college versus not spending so much money up front, especially if you know have a long educational future ahead of you, is a great option. A hundred percent. The FAFSA forms This one almost had me break out into hives and flash back to my grad school days. One of the specific challenges mentioned by Ms. Obama. What are some of the other challenges for those trying to attend college that your average parent or student may overlook? So one thing the first lady talks about a lot is college preparedness and a prong of retire is connecting school counselors with students. She always talks about when she got to college, you know, being a young black girl from Chicago, she felt like she was a little lost. She didn't have that much guidance. And so, a big part of retire is connecting school counselors. To kids once their on campus to make sure that they have that support and they feel like they have the resources they need to actually stay there and do well. And that's a great point because we fail to realize sometimes that even in 2015 for many this is the generation that first time are going to four year [UNKNOWN] institutions, Definitely. They don't necessarily have older siblings or cousins that may have gone on to college or to graduate school. So it's very important to, Reach Higher is the program? Yes. To reach higher in other community service organizations that can connect them with mentorship. Absolutely. And in addition to being part of the first lady's Higher initiative. The panel you moderated was a kick off to Essence's second annual college tour. Tell us a little bit more about the tour and the hash tag 62 million girls social media campaign. So, the tour kicks off this month. We're going to three schools, University Of Maryland College Park, Hampton University, and Clarkett Landing University. And it's really a way for Essence the brand to get out there on college campuses and see what college are talking about, let them interface with editors, and really just get that one-on-one connection. So it'll be really great. And it's just a great way for us to sort of get out into the world and see what our kids are talking about and get the pulse of what's going on. definitely. And the 62 million girls social media campaign, which I'm starting to see a lot of everywhere all over my twitter feed, is encouraging people to tweet what they learned in school along with a photo of themselves. We've seen celebs such as Janelle Monae, Kerry Washington, Misty Copeland and Usher take part. Lauren, what's something you learned in school? [LAUGH] I think the most important thing I learned in school was to speak up. Which was paramount for me. I was always taught that my voice and my opinions mattered. As a young black girl growing up, it's very important to hear that along the way. You know, growing up, and it really empowers you to use that in your everyday life. So that's the one thing I would say I learned from school. I learned how to make a mean cup of Ramen noodles. [LAUGH] I learned that I can live for like a month on $10. [LAUGH] But, coming from Alexandria, Louisiana, and I came to college here in New York, college showed me that my world is so much bigger than the community that I grew up in. So, there are many different levels of college education, if you will, from meeting different people, different backgrounds and finding yourself. You know, absolutely. Thank you so very much for joining us. You can visit essence.com for those dates and those locations.
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