Secretary Cardona's Remarks at The North Carolina A&T State University Pep Rally with the First Lady, Greensboro, NC

Archived Information

Secretary Cardona's Remarks at The North Carolina A&T State University Pep Rally with the First Lady, Greensboro, NC

Remarks as prepared
September 13, 2022

Thank you, Chancellor Martin.

And thank you to our First Lady, Dr. Biden. As an educator, let me tell you: it makes a difference to know we have an educator in the White House. Thank you for all you're doing to elevate teaching and support teachers of color.

Now, first things first: can I get an AGGIE PRIDE??

Look: there's a reason why I was so excited to come to NC A&T as the first stop on our Road to Success bus tour.

It's because of that Aggie Pride.

It's because you take pride in not just your history, but your potential.

And it's because you take pride in high expectations. I mean, your homecoming is actually called the "Greatest Homecoming on Earth!"

And based on everything I've heard: GHOE delivers.

But it's not just that.

You can take pride in having more Black engineering grads than any university in this country.

Make some noise if you're an engineering major!

You can take pride in having more Black bachelor's degree grads in Agriculture than any American university. Any ag majors here today?

And you know I have to shout out the College of Education. Where are my future teachers?!

I've only mentioned a few of the pathways that exist at this school. But whatever you're doing at A&T – and whatever you will do – know this: your school is raising the bar.

A&T is a testament to something any good educator knows: if you set high expectations – and give students access to opportunity, they deliver.

Here's the truth: millions of students out there have tremendous potential – just like you do.

But what breaks my heart is knowing that some might never get the chance to access the pathways that match up with their potential.

Too often, the make-or-break factors are about who you are and where you come from.

Some of that is explicit discrimination.

But we also have to acknowledge the ways in which the denial of access and equity in education happens today … in the shadows.

It often takes the form of low expectations of some students because of their race or place. And that assumption of low potential becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy . . . leading to fewer resources, fewer pathways, fewer roads to success.

HBCUs like A&T are built on defying these expectations and raising the bar for their students. And their results speak for themselves.

It's why President Biden – and all of us in his administration – firmly believe in HBCUs.

It's why this administration has delivered more funding to HBCUs than any other administration.

It's why President Biden re-established the White House HBCU initiative – and why he appointed people like A&T's own Willie Deese to advise him.

And we will not tolerate bomb threats, violence, or efforts of any kind to terrorize HBCUs.

There are so many incredible HBCUs in this country. But we all know which is the largest one!

And why? Because people want to come here. Because you know that your school is raising the bar for you.

It's what we need to see a lot more of in education.

We need to raise the bar for how we recognize potential in every learner. …

We need to raise the bar for the pathways students have to careers and higher ed. …

We need to raise the bar for reimagining our education system to include and support young people of all backgrounds.

And we need to do it with the same urgency we have for fighting this pandemic.

Let me wrap up by talking to you about an NC A&T student from the past.

He was a music major – any music majors here? He also taught karate – any martial artists here?

His name was Ronald McNair. And I'm sure you know: he would change his major to physics, and later became the second Black astronaut in space.

My point isn't that you should change your major! My point is that you shouldn't limit yourself to what you think your potential is today.

Ronald McNair was an incredible musician. But what a loss it would have been if he never thought he could be an astronaut!

So, take your time to figure out what you want – and know that you have the potential to achieve it.

North Carolina A&T is raising the bar for you. Make sure you clear it!

Thank you! And now for the part you really came here for: let's give it up for the Aggie Live Wires and Cheerleaders!