Anecdote of a Newcomer Working Her Way In: Meet Our Newest Staffer

September 1, 2016

By Courtney Argenti, Graduate Policy Intern

Within my first week as a graduate policy intern, I have been inspired by the ambition and passion within the National College Access Network. As I dive right into education policy’s evolving sphere of college access, I am looking forward to working with NCAN on pivotal initiatives like #FixFAFSA.

As a newcomer to both Washington, D.C. and the education policy field, it is exciting to learn about how unique organizations like NCAN and its members collaborate in a national community to promote change from the top and also at the grass roots through research, evaluation, advocacy and capacity-building. Working with NCAN has already helped me contextualize what has been exhorted throughout my undergraduate career and now my graduate career: Change must come from the bottom and the top.

I have been interested in influencing change throughout my career as an early childhood educator, ESL teacher, and also as a social worker. I became passionate about education policy in particular when I taught English in Santiago, Chile. While working in a K-12 school and administering English conversation courses to working professionals, I witnessed similar grievances and struggles regarding the post-secondary education system that we face here in the United States: opportunity and attainment gaps, deficit in quality education, and high tuition and high debt. My personal interaction with students on both sides of the spectrum renewed a sentiment of ineffectiveness regarding a system of inequity, and ultimately, solidified my interest in approaching these complex issues from a policy standpoint.

Since I started with NCAN a few days ago, on Aug. 29, I have been researching federal financial aid policy (Lumina’s film series, “Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid” was very helpful) and am fascinated by the noble efforts made by policymakers and advocates throughout recent history. I have learned the importance of effective evaluation of policies and the need for comprehensive research surrounding them.

Moving forward, I am eager to meet NCAN’s members at the 2016 National Conference in Detroit on Sept. 19-21. I am proud to become part of a national community of leaders devoted to bringing about educational justice and equity. I look forward to contributing to, learning about, and growing from my work toward expanding and promoting NCAN’s federal financial aid policy work, and ultimately, directly affecting one of the most important infrastructures of our society.

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