Elon alumna sits down with U.S. education secretary to discuss civic engagement

The Oct. 27 discussion between Yasmine Arrington '15, the founder of ScholarCHIPS and a Peace First fellow, and Secretary John B. King Jr. was broadcast live on Facebook. 

During a 30-minute one-on-one discussion Thursday, Yasmine Arrington ’15 shared her ideas about how to promote civic engagement and success in school with the country’s top education official, U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr.

The discussion at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., was broadcast live on Facebook by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Peace First Presents Duets, a series of discussions between Peace First fellows and top leaders around the country. Peace First is a Boston-based campaign to promote peace and deter violence among young people, with Arrington selected in 2015 as one of five Peace First fellows. 

A strategic communications and history double major, Arrington is the founder of ScholarCHIPS, a nonprofit organization that provides college scholarships and a support network to children of incarcerated parents. She talked to King during the Oct. 27 discussion about the role the mentors played in her development and success throughout school. “They say that I had a thirst for learning, and that I had a desire to learn as much as I could, and also to give back, to be involved in the community,” Arrington told King. 

King explained the challenges he has faced in his own life, including growing up in New York City and losing both of his parents by the age of 12. King went on to become an educator and earning a law degree, telling Arrington that “my life could have gone in a lot of different directions.

“I had teachers who made school amazing,” he said. “I became a teacher because I wanted to try to do for other kids what my teachers had done for me.”

Asked about the impact ScholarCHIPS is making in the lives of young people, Arrington, who is also pursuing a doctorate in divinity at Howard University, explained that her organization does more than just provide funding for a college education. “Children with incarcerated parents, they face multiple challenges, she said. “We also partner them with mentors and people like them who have had an incarcerated parent or a loved one or family member (in prison).”

View the entire conversation here