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Ponnada: Appreciate education

BY SRI PONNADA | OCTOBER 24, 2012 6:30 AM

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Have you ever taken a moment to think about the fact that you are here at the University of Iowa?

Some of us may not see this as that big of a deal. But to others, simply standing on the university’s turf is something that they wouldn’t dare to dream of. Many of these people happen to be women — especially those of color such as me.

Megan Schwalm, the program director at the Women’s Resource and Action Center, has seen firsthand the effects that education, and the lack of, can have on young women. Schwalm along with other members of the UI community have started the Youth Mentoring Program.

This initiative matches teenage women from the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County with volunteers trained by WRAC in order to provide the young girls with a positive influence in their lives.

“None of these girls had ever set foot on the University of Iowa’s campus,” Schwalm said. “And they have lived in our community for a long time.”

She noted that she had heard the girls say quite frequently, “Girls like me don’t go to college.”

In fact, in 2010, the Global Campaign for Education reported that 69 million children were out of school that year.

Women who attain higher levels of education have lower poverty rates than those with less education, according to a report the National Center for Education Statistics. The report also stated that around 43 percent of all African-American young adults without a high-school level education were living in poverty in 2009, compared with 34 percent of African-American young adults whose highest level of educational attainment was high-school completion.

Sadly, these benefits are being locked away for millions of women who are minorities in many countries, including our very own.


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