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K-State Today

September 10, 2014

First lady posts comment about College of Education video trailer

Submitted by Patrice Scott

The College of Education's latest documentary is receiving attention from the White House as first lady Michelle Obama posted a comment this week on a popular website about the film's subject.

"A Walk in My Shoes: First Generation College Students" tells the triumphs and struggles of several students majoring in education as well as successful alumni educators who have walked that path. This was Mrs. Obama's first post as a guest curator on Upworthy.com, a social media website dedicated to important issues, where she viewed the film's trailer. As a first generation college student, Mrs. Obama shared her personal experience.

"Neither of my parents graduated from college, so when I got to campus as a freshman, I'll admit I was a little overwhelmed. I didn't know anyone on campus except my brother. I didn't know how to pick the right classes or find the right buildings. I didn't even bring the right size sheets for my dorm room bed.

But then I had an opportunity to participate in a three-week, on-campus orientation program that helped me get a feel for the rhythm of college life. And if it weren't for those resources and the friends and the mentors, I honestly don't know how I would have made it through college.

In the video below, you'll hear inspiring stories from first-generation students at Kansas State University who have overcome challenges and are preparing to give back as educators. As a country, we're missing out on too much potential because too often young people don't believe that college can be a reality for them — or they don't know the steps to take to prepare themselves for higher education. So it's up to all of us to make sure we're helping our young people reach higher and take charge of their futures.

Because our young people need to know that no matter where you come from or how much money your family has, you can succeed in college, and get your degree, and then go on to build a better life for yourself."


The documentary came to fruition because Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education, wanted to shed light on the personal stories of first-generation college students — a group that makes up 34 percent of the college's undergraduate student body, 40 percent of the Manhattan campus's student population and 70 percent of students at K-State Salina. Mercer commissioned the college's videographer, Rusty Earl, to produce the film to help educators and future educators better understand the issues many first generation students face.

Mercer is grateful the college's work is striking a national chord, again. In 2011, the college joined Michelle Obama's and Jill Biden's "Joining Forces" initiative to make educators aware of the needs of military-connected children.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, or AACTE, and the Military Child Education Coalition, or MCEC, created "Educate the Educator" to support "Joining Forces." K-State was one of the first 100 universities in the country to participate.

In July, the College of Education was presented with a LTG (Ret) H.G. "Pete" Taylor Partnership of Excellence Award for higher education at its 16th National Training Seminar in Washington, D.C. Only three universities were recognized. The college's film, "A Walk in My Shoes: Military Life" was a key contributor to the documentation for the award.

The "A Walk in My Shoes" video series began in 2011. All of the college's documentaries and videos can be viewed on its YouTube channel. "A Walk in My Shoes: First-Generation College Students" will premiere Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. in the K-State Student Union's Forum Hall.