Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett made an emphatic call for greater inclusiveness in education when she gave the Compton Lecture at MIT in March. “When we’re working to ensure that all Americans have full access to education, resources, role models, encouragement, and opportunities, we’re unleashing the full force of our economic capacity,” said Jarrett, who oversees the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
Jarrett’s great-grandfather, Robert Taylor, Class of 1892, is a case in point. The son of a slave, he became MIT’s first African-American graduate—and the nation’s first prominent black architect. “His story was only possible because … the doorway to opportunity was cracked open,” she said.
Today, White House programs encourage students of diverse backgrounds to enter STEM fields. “The president is doing everything he can to make it cool to be a geek,” said Jarrett.