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Source: Arizona State University

October 5, 2010


Student at HACU-member Institution ASU gets an invitation to the White House


An ASU senior has scored a coveted request: an invitation to appear at the White House. Albert Ojeda, political science major and aspiring law student, is in Washington, D.C. to participate in the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges on Oct. 5.

Ojeda, a second year transfer student from Estrella Mountain Community College, made an impression last spring when he met Jill Biden, community college professor and wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

He spoke at a round-table session in May, when Jill Biden was in Tempe on a fact-finding mission for the summit. She came to learn about the Maricopa-ASU Pathways Program, or MAPP, which helps students make easier transitions from the Maricopa Community College system to ASU.

Ojeda is one of only about 100 participants invited to the summit, which brings together community college administrators and faculty, business and philanthropic leaders, as well as federal and state policy leaders. Only a few students will be in attendance.

Participants will include Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen; and Melinda Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The opening session of the summit will be streamed live on Oct 5 at 9:15 a.m. Arizona time and the closing session at noon, on Ojeda has been asked to introduce Biden and to speak at a break-out session.

“It feels surreal,” says Ojeda. “A lot of people are excited for me, especially my aunt and uncle. They’re also going to Washington.”

His aunt and uncle adopted him as a youngster, when his parents were no longer able to care for him. After he graduated from Peoria High School, they encouraged him when he struggled to find a direction for his life.

“It was tough, the transition from high school, and I was just trying to get by day to day. A year and a half later I enrolled at Estrella Community College, and once I was there I realized they offered programs and opportunities I didn’t know about. The first semester I got all As and one B, and I thought, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ I graduated with the highest distinction.

“When Dr. Biden was here, I talked about why I went to community college, how it prepared me for the university, and the different programs they offer that helped me out. I had good advisers who helped me focus on how I could transfer to ASU.”

The MAPP provides Maricopa Community College students a sequence of lower-division coursework that will lead to an ASU undergraduate degree. Students who earn an associate’s degree with the requisite GPA within three years are guaranteed admission to ASU and are charged a tuition rate in accordance with the year they entered the program.

“There were a lot of odds against me, but I’ve been blessed to have the opportunities I’ve had,” says Ojeda, who is enrolled in Barrett, the Honors College as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “ASU has been great. I meet frequently with my mentor, Kent Hopkins (ASU vice provost for enrollment management). He keeps after me to make sure my grades stay up.”

As a new student worker in ASU undergraduate admissions, Ojeda will assist staff with visits and presentations at community colleges. This Thursday he’ll be back in class, as well as working at the admissions office. He’ll be coming back to earth.