This Class Acts series features inspiring online education graduates with promising futures and showcases how individualized, award-winning curriculum and technology enabled these students’ success.
Evan Gong started using online education with Nevada Virtual Academy in seventh grade because he was looking for a challenge and saw opportunity in using an open style of learning. He flourished, to say the least, making his high school graduation quite a success story. This high-achieving student balances schoolwork, music, family, Ju Jitsu, being a member of the United States Senate Youth Program, and creating a financial literacy campaign—just to name a few—and, he’s headed to the University of California – Berkeley in the fall with more than $32,000 in scholarships!
How does a high school student have time for all of that? Educational freedom and, of course, hard work.
Evan has always been passionate about finance, but it peaked when he witnessed how the stock market decline hit his home state of Nevada. He saw the burden it put on the state’s income which is primarily funded by tourism, and the resulting unemployment and foreclosures.
He wanted to help make a difference.
Nevada Virtual Academy’s High School Principal Orlando Dos Santos reached out and suggested that Evan apply to be a part of the TRIO Program at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, a federal outreach program for qualifying students. TRIO had a financial literacy program that was perfect for Evan.
Through the program, Evan worked with Assistant Director of Adult Educational Services Carolynn Taylor, and was able to reach more than 50 low-income students, parents, and youth by educating them on subjects like budgeting, saving, planning ahead, and looking into scholarships and grants through financial aid.
In addition to his hard work with TRIO, Evan was selected as one of 21 Nevada high-school-age students to represent their senatorial districts as part of the Nevada Youth Legislature. He then went on to be one of two state representatives to experience the national government in action as part of the United States Senate Youth Program. Through these programs, Evan has worked relentlessly petitioning for Senate Bill 220 in the state of Nevada which “Requires instruction on financial literacy in public middle schools and junior high schools.”
All of these experiences have given Evan practical skills, such as working with adults; a deeper understanding of the interrelationship of the legislature, judicial, and executive branches; and other skills that he will use in his eventual career. When asked about his experience, he says:
“I was overjoyed and in complete disbelief. How many high school students have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the inner-workings of the United States government first-hand—much less meet the president, a Supreme Court justice, and the top congressional leaders?
“My experience at Washington Week far exceeded my expectation, and I treasured every minute of it. As I listened to our speakers offer their perspectives on why they pursued a career in public service, I was moved by their genuine commitment to making a difference in our society. I wanted to be in their shoes one day, solving real-world problems, representing people, and shaping the course of our nation. Despite the partisan gridlock, finger-pointing, and rhetoric the media portrays, I left the program truly believing that Washington is a place where people can do good if they find ways to see beyond their differences. As Senator Susan Collins of Maine told us, ‘We need to first treat others with dignity and respect before we can start working together.'”
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