Student activism is more than just picket signs at the dean’s office. College sophomore Bryan Miranda is dedicating his summer to combining the efforts of two different statewide student organizations to cap student tuitions.
“I have started booking school tours around the state making presentations to recruit the best and brightest minds to create a strong student association,” says Bryan.
The first organization, the Alliance of Educational Opportunity Fund Students of New Jersey (AESNJ), focuses on giving financial security for students who cannot afford higher education. The other, the New Jersey United Students (NJUS), is a student-run organization that maintains a voice for the student populations in New Jersey. He splits his time between the two in order to encourage the groups to collaborate. His participation in these organizations comes to no surprise to his high school history teacher, Barry Franzyshen.
“There are plenty of kids that have the ability to excel in school, but they don’t achieve like Bryan does,” Franzyshen says. “He is absolutely determined to make a difference in the community at large.”
Name: Bryan Miranda
School: Sophomore, Rutgers University
Hometown: Bound Brook, NJ
Favorite activities: I love to write. I write poetry, prose, or even just my thoughts. I did sports in high school and I still try to stay physically active. One of the main things I like to do is help people. I love to sit down and talk to someone who seems is upset and ask them what’s wrong. Everyone needs an ear to listen to.
I’m passionate about… I am passionate about education. That’s the best way to put it. You can take anything from what you learn in the classroom—anything you think is valuable and influential information—and that is the core of education. I am passionate because it is very important. It brings a lot of people together in creative and innovative ways. It really sharpens the young minds. It develops a progressive world.
What my summer has in store: I am working with AESNJ and the NJUS. AESNJ is a statewide network that is the vanguard for students who typically cannot afford a college education. (It provides scholarships to fund my education.) I was selected to be on the executive board this year to serve, but I was working in New Brunswick with NJUS. This summer, I chose to intern with NJUS and collaborate with AESNJ. We are writing a voter registration drive this year. We need to build a power of advocacy in a community that has been misrepresented for 15 years. Now we are in a more dire time with the debt bubble. My goal is to reintroduce minorities back into the game of not only politics, but in community service to demonstrate how they can be the ones making difference.
My inspiration: I have to say my family and two high school teachers. Without them I would not be in college right now. My teachers’ names are Mr. Franzyshen, history, and Mr. Cohn, English. My English teacher took my love of hip hop music and combined it with my ability to write. Since then, I have been hooked on English. Because of them I can express emotion and feeling with people I meet. I am also really thankful for my mother. Her struggle pushes me to keep going—you see, I am a first generation from Ecuador—her coming to a foreign place altogether and succeeding is a huge inspiration. I am also a really heavy music head. One of my main inspirations is Nas. His new album is one of the albums that got me through the battle against Rutgers tuition hikes.
Short-term plan: Honestly, just to Graduate Rutgers with honors. I want to write for the Daily Targum in the fall, which is the local paper. I am going to run for more executive board positions. I am just going to keep taking it day by day, deal with the unexpected, and go with it.
In 10 years, I see myself…comfortable. I see myself working for New York Times and have a few professor jobs here and there. I will also get a masters. I really want to stay within education and be a columnist. I want to be published and have my voice in a public forum and receive criticism.