Edinboro student Shaquan Walker meets with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan07/18/2013
Edinboro University student Shaquan Walker traveled to Washington, D.C., on July 11 as part of a four-student delegation from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) to meet with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to discuss educational and financial aid policy at the federal level.
Walker, a junior double majoring in Sociology and Criminal Justice, said he was honored to represent the University in Washington, though the experience itself was initially a little intimidating.
“At first we all came in and sat down at this big corporate table. It was a little scary at first because I’d never been in a position as big as that,” Walker said. “We all sat down and hashed out some stuff with some senior policy analysts. Then, Secretary Duncan walked in, and he sat down and introduced himself and went through a run-through of what we wanted to talk about.”
Alongside students from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, West Chester University and Bloomsburg University, Walker spoke with Secretary Duncan about ways to reform the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the form used to determine the eligibility of college students in the United States for financial aid, including the Pell Grant, federal student loans and Federal Work-Study, so that the form reflects the financial needs of students in a more individualized way.
“The PA delegation, we took information regarding the FAFSA. The FAFSA reflects a cookie-cutter student, pretty much, but there really isn’t that anymore. Everybody’s different,” said Walker. “We really focused on that, really doing more in-depth background checks on the FAFSA to see where our money is going to and how much we can really afford to contribute.”
In addition to high-ranking policymakers, Walker spoke with students representing schools in Virginia, West Virginia and Idaho. He was excited to hear about the policies and programs at their respective campuses, adding, “It really was a learning experience. I felt like I could take some of the ideas they had that are working great at their universities and bring them back to Edinboro University.”
Walker is among the University community’s most active students. The Greenville, Pa., native is as an on-campus Resident Assistant and Highland Ambassador and is also a member of the Student Government Association. He has been nominated to serve as the student representative on the Edinboro University Council of Trustees and is awaiting confirmation.