White House representative Kalpen Modi, better known as Kal Penn, came to Florida A&M Thursday to discuss issues concerning historically black colleges and universities.
Students had the opportunity to discuss political and economical issues with Penn in the Dean’s conference room in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. Penn, an associate director in the Office of Public Engagement for the White House, said that youth outreach is of the utmost importance for the Obama administration.
“The challenge that I think we face on youth outreach is that unlike other constituency groups that have advocacy arms in Washington D.C. that represents them, young people don’t have that so it is a challenge to not only reach out but to have young people make their voices heard,” Penn said.
Penn addressed fears that colleges and elementary schools will not have the necessary funds to survive.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes $5 billion for early learning programs and $77 billion for reforms to strengthen elementary and secondary education; $48.6 billion is used to stabilize state education budgets.
Other topics discussed include entrepreneurship, methods on how to rally communities, jobs in the economy and the financial state of HBCUs.
“It is an exciting experience to be among students who will not only provide us with the feedback that is necessary, but what may make a significant change and create a better country,” Penn said.
Students discussed their positions and concerns on working on an international level and the affects of budget cuts at colleges and universities.
“My main concern as a student is for the future. Because of globalization, it is important for students to be able to perform on an international level and to converse in a global manner,” said Ciara Taylor, 22, a senior foreign language student.
Taylor added because of budget cuts, programs essential to enabling students to compete on an international level are being thrown out.