Kennedy Walker liked what she heard at Grand Valley’s Kirkhof Center on Thursday morning. She also felt heard.
“I like that it’s using students and our voices, not just teachers,” said Walker, an incoming junior at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy. “Especially with minority students. A lot of times our history is not taught in school, or our voices aren’t heard.”
Walker was in Allendale for the Midwest Learner Design Summit that is part of REP4, a program founded by Grand Valley that taps students to create and prototype new ways to provide more equitable access to higher education.
She joined more than 250 students from Michigan and the Chicago area at the first day of the regional summit, which continues with a similar session at Grand Valley’s Detroit Center on Saturday.
Grand Valley’s summit is one of five regional events taking place across the country with fellow REP4 Alliance partners. The events culminate with a Sept. 22 virtual national convening hosted by Grand Valley where ideas will be shared and evaluated.
For Walker, who counted Grand Valley as the fourth college she’s visited, the program also helped her get a better feel for the campus environment in Allendale.
For others, some of whom were setting foot on a college campus for the first time in their lives, REP4 provided an experience that opened doors to new possibilities.
President Philomena V. Mantella urged summit partcipants to be active in shaping their own futures.
“The most important piece of the work is that you discover more about yourself and what you want – that you understand you have power in this educational journey,” Mantella told the summit participants. “You're not just put in a slot, into an educational flywheel, that you have to just move through.”