Kathleen McGarry, a junior at Smith College, is a student leader who advocates for greater inclusion and resources for students from non-traditional and vulnerable populations. At Smith, she has worked to ensure adequate housing and food security for low income and non-traditional aged students. She is a member of the College’s Committee on Mission and Priorities, serves on a college-wide justice working group, and represents students on the search committee for the next Dean of the College. She has secured 2020 grant funding to create a consortium of support for non-traditional students at selective colleges across the country. Her commitment to pursue educational equity and justice for students of all ages in her planned career as an education lawyer and school finance litigator is never far from her mind and strongly reflected in her studies.
Growing up, I attended a variety of schools in a number of different school districts. With each successive move I became increasingly aware of the vast disparities in resources and opportunities available to students, solely on the basis of their zip code and community’s property values. Believing this to be unjust, I have since dedicated my life’s work to eliminating resource inequities in our public school systems.
At Smith College, I have focused on addressing inequities in housing access for low-income and non-traditional students through my work on the strategic planning, diversity and inclusion, and student need review committees. I am also working on a project to match alumnae volunteers offering free break housing with low-income students needing housing during internships, and am collaborating with the school to create a database of resources and funding opportunities available to students. I believe that access to education is a root-cause solution to a myriad of other social problems, and hope to continue working on this issue as an education lawyer specializing in school finance law.