Pioneering Students Come in Many Shapes and Sizes

Barry Lenson

Pioneering Students Come in Many Shapes and Sizes

When you look back over the history of college education in America, certain students stand out as pioneers who advanced the cause of education. 

We’re not saying that all of the people we list below should carry equal credit as change leaders, because some of them took actions that stand out for extraordinary bravery. Yet they are all pioneers, because other people followed in their steps. 

Let’s take a closer look . . . 

Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes broke the color barrier at the University of Georgia 50 years ago.  They walked onto campus, registered for classes and as one observer noted, “Took on the whole state of Georgia.” Since then, thousands of students of color have followed in their steps. If these two brave students aren’t pioneers, who is?

Vivian Malone and James Hood did the same thing in 1963 at the University of Alabama, going face to face with then-Governor George Wallace – a very scary and powerful man. He backed down. 

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to graduate from an American medical school, way back in 1849. She was rejected by all the schools where she applied, except by Geneva Medical College in Geneva, New York. She graduated and became the first woman doctor educated in the New World. 

Back in 1969, Yale University admitted women undergraduates for the first time. It was a period when many “old boy” all-male colleges in America were going co-ed, and it took considerable bravery to be among the first women to attend. 

And there are other pioneers too . . . 

Over the last 10 years, a growing number of students have begun to place their educational future in the hands of online college institutions, like StraighterLine. These students are brave pioneers too, because they are willing to confront outdated, hidebound attitudes about what colleges should be, and what they should cost. 

So with this post, we lift an appreciative toast to all students who are brave enough to see the future and make it happen. Are you one of them? Please tell us your story. 

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