Local Teen Scores Audience With Michelle Obama

Palo Alto high school student selected for the first lady’s initiative to increase access to higher education.

Gunn High School senior Kevin Ji, a 17-year-old from Palo Alto, skipped school this past Friday. He had a pretty good reason. He was in Washington D.C. meeting with First Lady Michelle Obama discussing strategies to expand access to higher education.

Ji was one of only 17 high school students nationwide to be selected to Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room Student Advisory Board, the student panel of the First Lady’s initiative to encourage and expand access to higher education to kids in underserved communities.

“I want to usher in a culture of empowerment among American youth regardless of their background,” Ji said in a release. “I will continue my mission to ‘better make room’ for those voices that remain unheard. Higher education should not just be for the privileged.”

Young Mr. Ji already had quite resume before his selection to the First Lady’s student board, serving for three years on the Palo Alto Youth Council, receiving numerous “mini grants” from the Palo Alto Think Fund, and founding the Palo Alto Teen History Bowl in 2016.

As a member of the Student Advisory Board, Ji is tasked with creating more of a college-bound culture at his school. Of the 17 students selected to the Better Make Room Student Advisory Board, two-thirds are from primarily low-income high schools and most plan to be the very first members of their families to pursue a post-secondary degree.

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