She’s sitting in the corner of a Starbucks, sipping on a venti iced coffee, face hidden behind a large laptop screen coated in colorful stickers.

Hanging on the chair behind her is a bright yellow raincoat, contrasting with the gloomy day, but highlighting her smile as she speaks.

Haley Edmondson grew up in Anchorage, Alaska — one of the biggest cities in the state, with no surrounding suburbs.

Paying her own way through college, she hopes to graduate from Miami in three years with graduate or law school in her future.

Her goal: To bring change to the education system.

Attending high school in a district made up of eight institutions, Edmondson quickly found her passion for student government.

“Our city was intimate enough for most students to be familiar with the legislators, and through student government I was able to represent my school in monthly district meetings,” she said.

Edmondson and another friend would organize book drives, soup kitchen visits and fashion shows — events that would unite their school, but not the entire district.

“My friend became the first student represented on the school board, and that year I was also elected as the district’s student body president,” Edmondson said. “We were beyond excited for what was to come, yet we were seen as children, and it still did not feel like our voice was being heard.”

Wanting to enact change, Edmondson, along with adult school board members, took to the streets and started talking to legislators in the capital city of Juneau. They sought equal funding and equal representation among school districts, which would, hopefully, result in graduation grades rising as suspension rates fell. Yet, the meetings did not produce outcomes that Edmondson was expecting.

“I remember my friend and I walking out of offices with tears streaming down our face, feeling so defeated, but it never stopped us,” said Edmondson.

Edmondson is a sophomore education studies major with a concentration in equity and educational change at Miami.

In her time here, she has absorbed much information regarding the American education system and how a student’s education can be altered based on racial and socioeconomic causes.

“It’s cool because a lot of the things I’m learning about now, I was able to witness firsthand as a sixteen-year-old,” she said. “And I really didn’t realize how many tools I’ve gained to help my effort of fixing these issues.”

Like many students, she doesn’t have a clear route of where she’s going or how the path will form in front of her. But she’s helping it progress today, in a corner of Miami University — yellow raincoat in tow.

straubhk@miamioh.edu

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