This month, we are launching the "Why I Stand" series to introduce our blog readers to Stand staff members around the country. These folks spend countless hours training parents, organizing campaigns, and supporting other Stand staff across the country. Why do they do it? Read on.
It’s hard to believe today that Toya Fick ever considered not going to college. She’s a University of Chicago graduate, a former teacher, and she has held several prestigious jobs before coming to Stand Oregon, including advising Hillary Clinton on education policy.
But growing up, Toya and her family struggled. Toya’s mom had moved her family to an affluent area, Charlottesville, VA, so that her kids could have great public schools, but that move came at a price. She worked three jobs to support her family. Toya was the one responsible for raising her two younger siblings, along with working an almost-fulltime job at Walmart to help pay the bills. Help from her mother on schoolwork, not to mention the complicated college application process, was just not an option.
She remembers lugging in all her mom’s W-2s to school and having her high school counselors help her all the way through the complicated FAFSA required for financial aid.
Today, Toya works fulltime as Stand’s Government Affairs Director to give all students in Oregon an excellent education and smooth access to college. As part of a coalition of other education advocacy groups, Toya recently helped pass a Tuition Equity Bill that was signed into law on April 2nd.
The bill grants in-state tuition to undocumented Oregon students who attend high school here and who are accepted to a university within the Oregon university system. “Working on tuition equity for the last few months has been amazing,” Toya says.
“I love coalition building. It’s just fun to find other folks who want the same thing on the same issue and push together to work forward.” And together, they finally won the ten-year battle to give more Oregon students affordable access to college.
To learn more and get involved in our work in Oregon, please visit www.Stand.org/Oregon.