Photo courtesy of Seattle Mayor’s Office.
South Seattle College’s 13th Year Promise Scholars played an important role in Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s State of the City address at Rainier Beach High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Current South students and alumni who have taken part in the 13th Year Promise Scholarship Program (providing one year of tuition-free college to graduating seniors from area high schools) were invited to be in – and in front – of a crowded RBHS Performing Arts Center as Durkan highlighted her vision for the future of Seattle. An important part of that vision is Durkan’s Seattle Promise College Tuition Program, a proposal to evolve the 13th Year into Seattle Promise, offering two years of tuition-free college to Seattle’s high school graduates.
“We need to make college a reality for every Seattle public school graduate by investing in two free years of college education and support,” Durkan said. “(The Seattle Promise program) builds on the success of the 13th Year Scholarship program, expands it and reimagines it.”
Mayor Durkan was introduced by current 13th Year Scholar Diana Bautista, who shared her family’s journey from Mexico to the United States so that she could have better opportunities in life and career.
“I was brought to America … for an opportunity to be somebody,” Bautista said. “Like so many in our community here in Seattle, the 13th Year Promise Scholarship helped open the door to college for me.”
Bautista said the 13th Year support staff was an important element in helping her acclimate to and succeed in college, especially since she is a first-generation student.
13th Year and South Seattle College alumni Abdiasis Ibrahim, a current University of Washington bioengineering student, and Musa Abdi, a UW student who plans to transfer to Washington State’s pharmacy program, were also highlighted and honored by Durkan during her speech.
“Seattle Promise will change the lives of our young people, and those young people will change our city,” Durkan said. “You already heard how it changed the life of Diana Bautista, who introduced me. And it has changed the lives of people like Musa Abdi and Abdiasis Ibrahim. Both Musa and Abdiasis grew up in refugee camps in Kenya. They were lucky to move with their families to Seattle … Both worked hard and ended up enrolling at South Seattle College as 13th Year scholars … and that year of free college helped change the arc of their already incredible lives.”
An additional 16 13th Year Scholars from South were invited to attend the event, and Durkan had more good news to share with them, stating all current 13th Year scholars will have their second year of college covered by Seattle Promise, and announcing the ORCA Opportunity plan to provide high school students and Seattle Promise scholars with unlimited public transportation throughout the year, starting this fall.