Better Make Room partners with former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative. Both Reach Higher and Better Make Room are housed within Civic Nation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

Better Make Room Advisory Board

A year ago, First Lady Michelle Obama’s dream for students across America manifested into an education movement: Better Make Room—this campaign to change the national conversation on education, connect with students like you and celebrate college. Better Make Room gives students across the nation a space to speak out and helps support the college-navigating experience. And as seriously awesome as that is, it’s not enough. We needed students like you to help Mrs. Obama build this movement from the ground up.

Members of Mrs. Obama’s inaugural Student Advisory Board are committed to making the President Obama’s North Star goal a reality—that our nation will ONCE AGAIN lead the world in college completion. These students are the groundbreakers and the trailblazers, the creators and the innovators, the organizers and the revolutionaries, who sit ready to catalyze a mass movement of their friends from college application to college graduation.

The Student Advisory Board’s mission is (1) to create a college-going, college-persisting and college-graduating culture at their schools, and (2) to connect fellow students to any information and resources they might need to succeed. They wake up every day with a mission, working towards a vision that sees every student at their school enrolling in and completing their education past high school—whether that’s a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. And THAT is a pretty amazing thing.

Want to get involved? We are no longer recruiting for the Advisory Board, but we are recruiting for student community team members! To join the fight for education, email bettermakeroom@civicnation.org to be connected with BMR teams in your area.

The Student Advisory Board’s mission is (1) to create a college-going, college-persisting and college-graduating culture at their schools, and (2) to connect fellow students to any information and resources they might need to succeed. They wake up every day with a mission, working towards a vision that sees every student at their school enrolling in and completing their education past high school—whether that’s a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.
And THAT is a pretty amazing thing.

MEMBERS

Ghawayne Calvin  – Omaha, NE

Ghawayne Calvin is a senior at Omaha Northwest High…

Ghawayne Calvin is a senior at Omaha Northwest High Magnet School in Omaha, Nebraska. He was born and raised in Jamaica but immigrated to the United States with his family in 2013. Ghawayne is a LEDA Scholar, a College Possible student, a member of student government, an Ambassador for the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission, a Relay for Life Team Captain, and a founding member of the Omaha Student Voices Advisory Council. His passion for health led him to create the Youth Expressions of Health Club at his high school. Ghawayne believes that attending college will be the first step to accomplishing his goal of becoming a surgeon and changing the lives of his family.

Kitana Holland  – Minneapolis, MN

Kitana Holland is a first generation college sophomore…

Kitana Holland is a first generation college sophomore at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While at Augsburg College, she has served as a member of College Possible, TRIO, as a LEAD Fellow, an Auggie Tour Guide, an URGO Research Assistant, and as a Senator in the Augsburg Student Government. Through these experiences, she has been able to use her creativity, relationship building, and process thinking to create impact in her community. Kitana is driven by her motto, “If the opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” and aspires to help first generation, low-income, and underrepresented high school and college students push through barriers to attain a college degree.

Lorena Leza  –  San Antonio, TX

Lorena Leza is a high school senior at the Young Women’s…

Lorena Leza is a high school senior at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy in San Antonio, Texas. She is the co-founder and president of the Young Women’s Coalition, a school organization dedicated to promoting social awareness and girls’ global education, and served as vice-president of the Gamma Sigma Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas program as well as vice-president of the Theater Arts Guild. She was also an intern for the Women’s Global Connection’s Girls Global Summit, an annual event inviting high school girls to learn about female empowerment and the responsibilities of being a global citizen. As a low-income Hispanic female ready to become a first generation college student, she had to develop a mindset, with the help from her family and mentors, to push past the hurdles, pursue her goals in computer science and political science, and shatter glass ceilings to inspire those coming after her.

Ana Perez-Villagomez  – NE

Ana Pérez-Villagómez is a senior at South High Magnet in Omaha…

Ana Pérez-Villagómez is a senior at South High Magnet in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the president of the student body and a member of the executive board for the National Honor Society and also served on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission. Additionally, Ana is an honors team representative for her school at Academic Decathlon competitions and serves as the public relations point person for the Green Team, which increases awareness about her school’s carbon footprint. She is the eldest of six children in her family and will be the first to graduate from high school and attend college. She intends to study chemistry and mathematics, while becoming a tutor for students, at her future institution.

Christopher Suggs  -Kinston, NC

Chris Suggs is a young leader and changemaker from Kinston High…

Chris Suggs is a young leader and changemaker from Kinston High School in Kinston, North Carolina. Chris is the founder of Kinston Teens, Inc. and Co-Founder of Black Youth Network. He is very passionate about young people having “a seat at the table,” Chris is a member of the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission and a Youth Advisory Board for Facebook. Chris has been recognized on platforms such as NBC’s The Real and the Nickelodeon’s HALO Awards.

Fatima Wahidi  –  St. Louis, MO

Fatima Wahidi is a senior at Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience…

Fatima Wahidi is a senior at Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience Magnet High School in St. Louis, Missouri. When her local high school was at risk for becoming unaccredited, Fatima decided to apply to Collegiate School of Medicine, where she will soon be part of its inaugural graduating class. Her biggest passions in life are social justice and neuroscience. Fatima is a LEDA Scholar and a dedicated volunteer in her St. Louis community.

Kevin Ji  - Palo Alto, CA

Kevin Ji is a senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA…

Kevin Ji is a senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto, CA. He founded the peer-to-peer Financial Literacy for Youth (FLY), an organization that teaches teens practical skills to sail through economic turbulence. As a board member of Palo Alto Youth Council, he raised awareness for teen mental health issues and was recognized by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for his leadership. A history buff, he also founded Historians in Action through which he has established Palo Alto’s first history tournament and developed interactive history curriculum with teachers.

Laura Muñoz  – Miami, FL

Laura Muñoz is from Miami, Florida, and is a freshman…

Laura Muñoz is from Miami, Florida, and is a freshman at Brown University. She is the freshman liaison for First-Gens@Brown and the freshman representative for the Latin American Student Organization at Brown. In high school, she was member of the National Honor Society and the French Honor Society and founded and directed her school’s National Honor Society Mentoring Initiative, which supports eighth graders in their transition to high school. She is a Cuban woman, a Miami girl, a believer in the endless power of dreams, a relentless list-maker, a daughter of immigrants, a mentor, a feminist, a budding Historian, and a Brunonian. She is a believer in the profound influence of education and a lover of knowledge.

Swetha Prabakaran - Ashburn, VA

Swetha Prabakaran is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for…

Swetha Prabakaran is a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) in Alexandria, VA interested in Computer Science. She is extremely passionate about introducing Computer Science to younger students and is the Founder and CEO of Everybody Code Now!, a national nonprofit. For her work, she was honored as a 2015 White House Champion of Change. Swetha is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and performed her arangetram (solo debut) in 2015.

Santiago Tobar Potes - Miami, FL

Santiago Tobar Potes was born in Cali, Colombia, and came to the US…

Santiago Tobar Potes was born in Cali, Colombia, and came to the US seeking asylum after the FARC — Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — killed both his grandparents. As a low-income, first generation college, LGBT student, he sometimes felt isolated. Nonetheless, in spite of those challenges, he studies at Columbia University as a Jack Kent Cooke, Questbridge, and Alexander Hamilton Scholar on a full scholarship. His goal is to make higher education readily available and feasible to all.

Mina Yakubu  – Wilmington, NC

Mina Yakubu is a senior at New Hanover High School, located…

Mina Yakubu is a senior at New Hanover High School, located in Wilmington, North Carolina. She immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana, West Africa. She is an ambitious young woman who has found strength in her African heritage, a passion she hopes to further in college. She believes that the opportunity to attend college or learn a trade should be made available and affordable for everyone. Mina is a LEDA Scholar and President of the International Club.

Jenny Ha - Oklahoma City, OK

Jenny Ha is a junior at Western Heights High School in …

Jenny Ha is a junior at Western Heights High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She is her school’s Key Club Vice-President, Junior Class Vice President, and Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America Vice President. She represents Ward 3 in Oklahoma City’s Youth Council and is a member of the National Honor Society. Jenny has also worked with The Oklahoman on their Teen Journalism program and served on the Federal Reserve’s Student Board of Directors for Oklahoma City. As a daughter of hard working Vietnamese immigrants, she had to take every opportunity available for her in the U.S. to succeed. She has challenged herself diligently in academics and immersed herself in extracurricular activities because she believes that education is the great equalizer which enables all young people to reach their full potential and change the future for the better.

Trey Leveque  –  Gilbert, AZ

Trey Leveque is a senior at Williams Field High School…

Trey Leveque is a senior at Williams Field High School in Gilbert, Arizona. He is very involved at his high school campus, serving as a leader in his school’s Student Council, Academic Decathlon, the American Sign Language club, Best Buddies, Boy Scouts of America, the Key Club, and Link Crew. He is also a member of the National English Honor Society and the Order of the Arrow, which is the Boy Scouts’ National Honor Society. From helping to lead fundraisers raising thousands of dollars to support organizations such as UNICEF through Key Club to helping others become leaders everyday through his school’s Student Council, he is truly passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of others and making a difference in the world.

Bethania Perez  –  Pico Rivera, CA

Bethania Perez is a senior at El Rancho High School…

Bethania Perez is a senior at El Rancho High School, which is located in her hometown of Pico Rivera, California. She is the president of her school’s California Scholarship Federation organization, which promotes scholarship and service and raises funds for scholarships and field trips. She is also a Link Crew member, a peer advisor, the captain of her school’s girls’ varsity soccer team, and a member of her school’s Athletic Council. Bethania is a first-generation Latina student from a low-income household who aspires to become a biomedical engineer and strives to make a positive impact for females in the field of STEM. She is passionate about everything ranging from academics to athletics. She is a compassionate and goal-oriented dreamer who lives a very active and adventurous life filled with extracurriculars and rigorous courses.

Alezandro Ruvalcaba -Thornton, CO

Alezandro Ruvalcaba is a senior at York International in Thornton, Colorado…

Alezandro Ruvalcaba is a senior at York International in Thornton, Colorado. He is the founder of Mexican & Chicanx Activists, a youth-led advocacy club centered around Brown social issues and activism. His passion for social justice pushes him to work towards ending the opportunity gap that disproportionately affects low-income students. After college, he intends on going to law school to study human rights and aspires to create a non-profit for homeless queer youth.

Taylor Vidmar  – Assumption, IL

Taylor Vidmar is a writer and student at Richland Community College from…

Taylor Vidmar is a writer and student at Richland Community College from Assumption, Illinois. She has written for Huffington Post Teen and MTV Founders. Growing up in a small town, she always had big dreams for the future. She hopes to help end the stigma against community college students and prove that it’s possible to achieve your goals no matter where you come from. In the future, she wants to be a political journalist.

Interested in partnering with Better Make Room?

You’re special. You’ve got skills. Now use them to help others.
Reach out and let us know how you’ll help—after all, you know how to use your resources or talents better than we do. We’d love to collaborate with you to further education in America!

If you’d like to join the Better Make Room team, reach out:

sign up for our newsletter
and STAY UP TO DATE ON NEWS and EVENTS

* indicates required