By Taylor Wolfson, Discussion Coordinator and USC Senior Price School of Public Policy
On March 26th, 2014 USC Schwarzenegger Institute Global Director, and former California State Secretary of Education, Bonnie Reiss, led an intimate discussion with eighteen of USC’s impassioned, and inquisitive students. The eighteen USC students who took part in the discussion were chosen to participate based on their application that was submitted. After a brief introduction by Bonnie on her unique and extraordinary career path, from entertainment law to environmental causes to education reform, the rest of the meeting was filled with question after question from the students. This specific group of USC students ranged from masters students to undergrads from all different majors on campus, but they were eager to learn from someone with so much knowledge and experience in Education Policy, a topic so close to each of these students’ hearts. The questions that were asked to Bonnie reflected the wide variety of interests the students brought to the discussion; topics included education technology, gaining leverage against powerful special interests, the possibility of extending the school year, the effect of parents instituting change, the limits of policy, thoughts on the controversial Vergara court case, and the future of education reform. Even when the discussion was forced to come to a close ninety minutes later there were still a half dozen hands raised, proving that only the tip of the iceberg had been hit and many more hours, if not days, would have been necessary for this group to sufficiently explore their interests. Although the questions had to end, it was clear that regardless of personal opinion and experience, there are a few key lessons everyone should take into any important venture they take on in the future: (1) be true to yourself, (2) make and build relationships because you never know where they can lead you, (3) take advantage of opportunities, and (4) find your passion. At the end of the discussion the fact that change isn’t possible without passion from those willing to fight for it was realized by all.