Confronting Poverty Among College Students

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Cuyahoga Community College held its third annual Confronting Poverty Among College Students conference Friday, October 25th, at the Western Campus. The conference was organized by the Institute for Poverty and Urban Education, and directed by Julia Krevans.  

“College can and should be a ladder to economic improvement for all families,” Krevans states. “Educators, researchers and community leaders need to better understand the persistent inequities experienced by youth as they transition to adulthood and then figure out how to remove them.”  

The National Center for Education Statistics data indicates that affluent students are 50 percent more likely than under-resourced students to be enrolled in college three years after high school. Among those who attend college after high school, affluent students are about twice as likely to earn a four-year degree within eight years as under-resourced students. 

The conference began at 8:45 a.m. with a welcome from Cuyahoga Community College Western Campus President Dr. Donna Imhoff. Following Dr. Imhoff was LaGuardia Community College Interim Provost and Senior Vice President, Dr. Nireata Seals. She discussed what LaGuardia has been doing in order to improve the lives of their students and keep their motivation on their schoolwork rather than their basic needs. 

Not having food, or enough money for books, can derail you. It really is the simple things, because financial aid and Pell [Grant] will pay for tuition, but it is the extra,” explained Seals.  

 LaGuardia recently started a food pantry that provides students with various food products in order to keep their focus on school and not having to worry about how they will receive their next meal. 

At 10:00 a.m., Morning Sessions began in various rooms around the campus. There were six sessions in which attendees could choose which one they wanted to visit. The sessions included topics such as graduation and completion rates, single mother students, and veteran students. Each session lasted for an hour.  

Immediately after, five more sessions in the same selection of rooms began. The new sessions provided information on affordable housing, measuring success beyond numbers, and experiences with poverty.  

After a lunch break, the attendees returned to a welcome from Cuyahoga Community College Western Campus Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Janice Taylor-Heard at 12:35p.m 

 Next was an address from Malcolm X College Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Cia Verschelden. Her address explained how students lose cognitive resources to poverty, racism, and classism. She also explained personal bandwidth we have in our brains. She explained, “We cannot get any more bandwidth and ideally, we come into class with all our bandwidth.” Verschelden goes into detail about her way of viewing our brain’s capacity and various factors can take up part of our bandwidth, negatively impacting our learning. Worrying about money, estrangement, and microaggressions are some examples Verschelden gives that can occupy bandwidth space. Her goal is to help students learn ways to recover bandwidth so they can have their full set of cognitive resources available in the classroom.  

At 2:10 p.m., the final five sessions of the day began, and attendees chose how they wanted to end their day. The afternoon sessions included topics such as food insecurity, nontraditional housing options, and under-resourced college students. The sessions ended at 3:30 p.m., concluding the third annual Confronting Poverty Among College Students conference.  

For more information about the event, visit or e-mail director Julia Krevans at 

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