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Secretary Miguel Cardona talking with students and staff at Reading Area Community College.
Secretary Miguel Cardona talking with students and staff at Reading Area Community College.

Secretary Miguel Cardona bus tour in Pennsylvania

On Thursday, he stopped in three different locations to talk with students and educators.

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Since Sept. 12, Secretary Miguel Cardona has been traveling around the country on his Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour. Alongside the First Lady Jill Biden, the week kick off happened in Knoxville, Tennessee. North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were also stops during the week. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education official website, the visits in Pennsylvania aim to highlight how community schools are helping students recover academically and get the mental health supports they need, celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and raise awareness about the Administration’s actions to provide debt relief to millions, including teachers and administrators through Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

As a Hispanic serving Institution (HSI) — colleges or universities where Hispanic students represent at least 25% of the full-time equivalent student body — Reading Area Community College (RACC), was the first stop in Secretary Cardona’s tour in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Sept. 15. There, he had a conversation with students about the Keystone Education Yields Success (KEYS) Program — a Pennsylvania Department of Human Services program designed to help recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) succeed in community college, when pursuing a postsecondary degree. 

Students in the program meet regularly with program staff who will help them meet their educational goals. Students are connected with appropriate support services both in and outside the College. Academic performance is monitored, and students are referred to needed services such as tutoring, advising, and career and personal counseling, according to the Community College of Philadelphia official website. 

In Reading, students shared their touching experiences while pursuing their education and how important was the support they received from the program's staff not only in their academics, but also in their personal lives. Before leaving the city, Secretary Cardona participated in a RACC’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. With Latin food and music, he shared a few words in the event’s kick off.  

Students sharing their experiences with Secretary Cardona.
 Secretary Cardona politely answered all the students.  

In the afternoon, before heading to Philadelphia, the tour stopped in Allentown, PA — where he was joined by the Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff. They both talked with school leaders and educators about what still needs to be improved for students to be able to succeed. 

The last stop of the tour in Pennsylvania was in Philadelphia, where Secretary Cardona and Second gentleman Emhoff spoke at a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) clinic held by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Both of them briefly talked about the efforts that have been made to address the student debt crisis. While the Secretary mentioned their hard work to fix a broken system, the second Gentleman highlighted the administration’ support to teachers. 

“There is so much talent that has been lost because students can’t afford college,” Secretary Cardona said. 

Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband mentioned the mental health epidemic that young people face nowadays and the impacts that student debt has on it. He also reinforced the need for a good infrastructure in schools so students can succeed.  

AFT President Randi Weingarten also made a speech about the importance of loan forgiveness and the impact it has on peoples’ lives. Historically speaking, she talked about the process of loan forgiveness and how the Biden Administration made this promise become a reality. 

“It was a miracle, but not magic,” she said. 

The last stop of the bus tour happened this morning, Sept. 16, in Camden, New Jersey. 
 

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