Metro Heights student to policymakers: My high school is my pathway to college
On Jan. 27, Crystal, a 12th-grade student at Metro Heights Academy in Fridley, spoke to hundreds of policymakers, business leaders and philanthropic supporters at the 2017 Children and Youth Issues Briefing in St. Paul.
The Children and Youth Issues Briefing focuses on emerging legislative issues expected to significantly impact Minnesota’s children and youth. Crystal served on a panel with one other student and two education experts and leaders from across the state.
Crystal’s life changed when she moved to Minnesota from Mexico when she was 12 years old. The stark contrast between the education systems in the two countries opened her eyes to new possibilities. “Moving here made me appreciate education even more,” she said. “I knew that education was the only way I could help my family in the future.”
Her life changed again when she became a young mother before graduating on high school. Metro Heights not only helped her reach academic goals for high school; it helped her accelerate forward to college and career.
In addition to pursuing her high school diploma at Metro Heights, she is simultaneously pursuing a degree in early childhood education through the Destination Diploma to Degree (D3) program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). “I want the opportunity to encourage young children to get educated and be part of an even better generation,” she said.
Her pathway was not always clear, but her teachers were crucial to helping her find her way. Metro Heights staff introduced her to the D3 program more than a year ago. “At first I was insecure about it, and I didn’t think I would be able to achieve anything,” she said. “But my teachers were committed to helping me learn and gave me all the resources I needed to be successful.”
When she graduates from Metro Heights in June, she will enroll full-time at MCTC as part of the Star Scholars
program, an invite-only fellowship that pays for the tuition and fees of undocumented students who show great potential. She wants to continue on to complete a four-year degree, being the first in her family to do so.
“If you asked me what I would change about my school, I would tell you nothing,” she remarked as she sat on a stage in front of hundreds of adults to tell her story. “ I feel very blessed to be in a country that has given me the opportunity to further my education.”