Trinity senior Linda Moktoi was invited to participate in the U.S. Department of Education Policy Briefing Series for agency staff. On April 4, 2013, she spoke as part of a student panel focusing on “Youth Voices: How U.S. Department of Education’s Policies Are Impacting Students.” She spoke specifically about her Pell grant and how it enabled her to pursue a college degree. She told the staff, “The Pell grant and my Trinity education have given me an opportunity to become very knowledgeable and be able to think critically, and to also share my knowledge with other people in order to help them…I strongly believe that education is important, because everything can be taken away from you, but no one can ever take the knowledge that you have acquired.” Here complete remarks are below.
Later that same day, President Patricia McGuire was the featured speaker at a policy briefing focusing on MOOCs (massive online open courses) for the staff at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. In her remarks, “Don’t McMOOC My Mission! High Touch in the Age of MOOC: Encouraging Diversity in Access and Success in Retention and Completion,” she quoted from Linda Moktoi’s remarks.
Remarks by Trinity Senior Linda Moktoi
Good morning. I am very honored to be here today to talk about the value of higher education. My name is Linda Moktoi, and I am a proud senior at Trinity Washington University here in the nation’s capital.
My journey towards getting a higher education has not been an easy one. Since I was little, I’ve always thought the only way for me to be economically stable and have the life of my dreams would have been to marry a rich man. This is because in the country that I am from, which is Cameroon, there is a lot of corruption with the current president who has been in power for over 30 years. Also, the tribe of the president gets more power because they have the same tradition as he does.
Unfortunately, I did not get that lucky, and the tribe of my parents is completely different from the president’s tribe. This has caused many difficulties in order for me and my sisters to pursue education. My parents constantly had to make sacrifices so that my sisters and I could get into the best schools and get the best education. My family was in danger because my father was outspoken about the injustices of the government.
These are the reasons that my father, a comedian, decided to take on an offer to come host a show in the United States. He was able to bring us here later so we could be together again as a family. When I came to the United States, I knew that I would have the opportunity to become whoever I dreamed to be, but I did not know how. Speaking only French made it hard to adapt to the culture, different people and a new country. The rest of my family stayed in Cameroon. It was only me, my two sisters and both of my parents. I had to adapt to a new lifestyle, so I decided to remain strong and keep faith.
After several years in this new country, I am very proud to say that I and my entire family applied for and were granted U.S. citizenship. It was a long but very rewarding journey. As my years of high school went by, I kept on asking myself what I should do with my life. It was clear that I needed to pursue a higher education to realize my dreams. However, because of the cost of higher education, I had to decide between getting a full-time job and not going to college, or putting myself in debt in order to go to college. I chose the latter – to pursue knowledge over ignorance and I was very happy with my choice.
Next, I had to find a college that was the right fit for me and one that I could afford. Most of the schools that I applied to were not giving me enough financial aid as I needed. One day, I heard that the career services office of my high school was hosting an instant decision day for a college. That college was Trinity Washington University and I was eager to find out more about it. The woman who gave me an instant decision is named Estefani Rondon, who was really knowledgeable about how to afford a college degree.
She told me about the many scholarships that Trinity offers and she told me about the federal financial aid programs available to me. One of the federal programs that Ms. Estefani talked about was the Pell grant, which would allow me to not be in so much debt by the time I graduate. Trinity offered me a financial aid package that gave me the opportunity to go to college. My financial aid package included the Pell grant, Trinity’s Presidential scholarship, loans, and work study.
I did not attend Trinity just because they made college affordable for me. I chose Trinity because it is the right place for me. It’s a place where the classes are small and there is a lot of interaction with my professors. I need an environment where I am able to study, focus, and get as many opportunities as possible. Trinity offered me all of that and so much more. At Trinity, I am not just a number. I am a successful woman and I have the confidence to become whatever and whoever I want to be. Being in an environment of all women has made me feel very empowered, and I am very happy that I made that choice
At the beginning of my college years, I was undecided about what I wanted to become. I knew that I wanted to be someone powerful, who could help the rest of the world by contributing with what I have. Now, as my fourth year of college is ending, I am currently a senior, and I decided to major in the field of communications with a minor in women’s studies. With my diploma, I hope to pursue the dream of becoming a broadcast journalist. I know that this will take hard work and perseverance, but I’ve come a long way and I will continue my journey.
The Pell grant and my Trinity education have given me an opportunity to become very knowledgeable and be able to think critically, and to also share my knowledge with other people in order to help them. The broadcasting field is very competitive, especially for women, which is why I need to take every chance I can get to educate myself. This is another reason why I strongly believe that education is important, because everything can be taken away from you, but no one can ever take the knowledge that you have acquired.
Thank you so much.