By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Zakiya Smith, as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University, told her professor that someday she’d like a position at the federal US Department of Education.

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Now a senior White House advisor on higher education, she was pictured at a White House meeting with President Obama on the cover of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Ms. Smith, 27, an advocate for first-generation college students as the “best way to the middle class,” serves on the Domestic Policy Council having studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and working in the Gear-Up college prep program in Boston.

Those who have met with Smith mention her open door and listening ear, encouraging other young people to help with information and ideas that will offer college access for the thousands of aspiring kids who believe that college is unobtainable.

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Such an important post, bringing a fresh voice for her peers is worth noting during Women’s History Month.