A group of University of Baltimore students met with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos before her keynote speech at UB's Commencement on Dec. 18, 2017. From left are: Brandee Izquierdo, M.P.A. '17, graduate speaker for Commencement; Elizabeth Paige, B.A. ’14, M.A. '17; William A. "Will" Shorter, UB student representative to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents; DeVos; Mariame Dangnokho, president of the UB Student Government Association; and Marshall Glaze, B.A. '17, undergraduate speaker for Commencement.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivered a keynote address at the University of Baltimore’s Dec 18 Commencement, and as part of the occasion, she met privately with a group of five UB students—two of whom were preparing to graduate later that day.
The conversation, arranged by staff members from UB and the Department of Education, took place in the Student Center following a reception with DeVos attended by UB faculty, deans, administrators, students and UB President Kurt Schmoke.
"We thought it would be a great opportunity for our students to share their views on higher education with Secretary DeVos," President Schmoke said of the meeting. "I saw it as part of a dialogue that I believe is of crucial importance during a rather contentious time in our nation's history. College students—in particular, our amazing students—can offer so much to almost any issue we are facing as a society."
First-year School of Law student Elizabeth Paige, B.A. '14, M.A. '17, said the talk with DeVos touched on some elements of college life that resonate beyond the classroom, such as the importance of exploring skills and careers in anticipation of jobs that do not yet exist.
"I appreciated the opportunity to speak with the Secretary about the importance of experiential opportunities in all levels of education," Paige said. "I am a law student because I explored career paths and different types of working environments, but that exploration didn't occur until I was already in college. If I had had those experiences earlier in my education, it would have been invaluable in helping me pick a college or a degree program."
Immediately following the student meeting, DeVos went to the nearby Lyric auditorium, where she delivered remarks to an audience of UB graduates, families and friends, plus local leaders from higher education, business and government.
"Nearly 100 years ago, UB's founders recognized Baltimore's workingmen and women needed options geared toward their needs," DeVos told the crowd of well over 1,000. "Since its inception, the University has provided any student access to a great education: working adults, first-generation college goers, career changers, and those who need flexibility outside of a traditional college environment. Offering curriculums customized to trades and classes scheduled around working hours were innovative ideas then, and they still are today. UB's brand is truly 'knowledge that works.'"
Read DeVos's Commencement speech here.