College students from across the country recently gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss important issues—and Brian Klosterboer ’12 was front and center.
Klosterboer, the incumbent Student Government Association (SGA) president at Centre, participated in the inaugural Student Leadership Summit, hosted by the National Campus Leadership Council (NCLC) in Washington, D.C., in mid-April. Klosterboer was one of 100 student leaders from across the nation to attend the event, planned in conjunction with the White House Office of Public Engagement.
The summit, hosted at the Center for American Progress and American University, gave students the opportunity to discuss important issues facing young people with policymakers.
“We had a range of speakers, some plenary sessions and a lot of break-out panels. We talked about issues in higher education and issues facing college students, like college affordability, student loans and debt, educational access and quality, for-profit colleges and online universities,” Klosterboer says. “We discussed unemployment for college grads, which is higher than it’s been in recent years. It’s affected young people the most. We also talked about Pell grants and Stafford loans, especially for graduate students, as they are no longer subsidized.”
Klosterboer and the other students who attended the summit were able to interact with such experts in higher education as Martha Kanter, under secretary of the Department of Education; Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of Youth Service America; Jon Carson, director of office of public engagement; and Ronnie Cho, White House liaison to young Americans, among others.
“The NCLC Summit proved to be a truly unique gathering. The caliber of policymakers and level of engagement among the student body presidents was a great manifestation of what NCLC is all about,” said Andy MacCracken, associate director of the NCLC. “We all came away with tangible steps to navigate and address some of the most pressing issues for students.”
For Klosterboer, involvement in the summit began this past summer, when student body presidents from across the country got together to discuss the debt ceiling debate and its affect on student loans.
“From that initiative, both the Obama administration and student body presidents thought it would be a good idea to have a channel to get input from college students across the nation,” Klosterboer says. “In the fall, I sat in on a conference call with Ronnie Cho, who mentioned they were having a summit of student body presidents. They asked if I had any ideas of what the summit should look like, as this was the inaugural summit of this organization. They liked the ideas, and asked me to be part of the programming committee of the summit.”
Along with the student body president of Stanford University, Klosterboer was asked to act as co-director of registration and recruitment for the summit.
“Throughout the semester, we were planning, helping people, recruiting other student body presidents to attend and getting ready for the summit,” he says.
Klosterboer enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other college students and discuss ideas about campus at the summit.
“It was great to meet over 100 student body presidents from across the nation, from large public and private universities and small private liberal arts colleges,” says Klosterboer. “I had lots of discussions about student governments, with people sharing ideas about what their SGAs do. We’re significantly revising our constitution for the first time in over a decade, so I talked to a lot of other student body presidents doing the same thing. It was great to meet them and discuss ideas about how to improve Centre.”
After talking with other students about issues they face at their own institutions, Klosterboer left the summit with a sense that Centre is weathering the economic storm extremely well.
“One thing I really took away from the summit is how lucky we are at Centre to have an administration that has been tackling challenges and planning strategically for the future,” he says. “Most of the public universities in the nation are dealing with significant budget cuts, tuition increases and enrollment growth. We’re extremely fortunate that we have new building projects, are taking environmentally sustainable steps and are improving the overall quality of our college experience during a recession. It was great to represent Centre and tell people about the exciting things we’re doing, including the VP Debate, and many of the other initiatives that SGA and the College have been working on.”
Though Klosterboer will soon graduate—with plans to teach middle school and high school social studies with Teach For America (TFA) in Detroit for two years before heading to Harvard Law School—he hopes other Centre students can use what he took away from the summit to make Centre an even better place.
“I will definitely pass on what I learned at the summit to my successors,” Klosterboer says.