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Roshan Bliss

Assistant Secretary of Education for Higher Education
Branch: Democracy
Current Location: Denver, Colorado
Hometown: Fishers, Indiana

Roshan Bliss is a student organizer, inclusiveness and anti-oppression trainer, and group process specialist with a passion for empowering young people to defend their futures and democratize their campuses. Born in Columbus, OH and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, IN, Roshan was raised with a Midwestern work ethic that taught that high academic achievement was a child's job, and despite feeling largely negative about his experience as a young black male in public schools, was always a bright student. His scholastic achievements earned him a full tuition academic scholarship from Purdue University, and he finished his bachelor's near the top of his with fewer of the financial challenges that most of his Millenial peers regularly face in paying for college, accruing only a modest amount of student debt. But like much of his generational cohort, Roshan graduated into the Great Recession, caused by Wall Street during the housing market collapse and the credit default swap scandal, and job prospects were bleak for educated young people without experience. So like many others, he decided to improve his job prospects and wait out the economy in graduate school.

After being accepted into a dual master's program and being offered a seemingly impressive scholarship, Roshan moved to Denver, CO in 2010 to begin graduate school at the University of Denver, without a full understanding of the financial impact of attending a private university over a public one. After just a year of studying, Roshan was only a third of the way to his graduate degree, but his student debt had nearly tripled. Forced to drop one of his two programs to cut costs and feeling isolated from the rest of life by a consuming academic work load, Roshan continued his studies, but began to question his choice to attend graduate school. More importantly, he began to question - and study - higher education's role in society and the social and financial impacts it has had on the Millenial generation. After becoming a central organizer in the Denver manifestation of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Roshan began to understand his own story as that of much of his generation's - working hard, playing by the rules, and doing everything right, yet ending up with few employment options and a mortgage-sized student debt burden. He has since decided to withdraw from graduate school instead of allowing his debt burden to exceed six figures in pursuit of his master's. Inspired by the success of the Quebec Student Movement, he now dedicates his time and energy to growing the U.S. student movement that has formed to democratize their schools, to resist the corporate takeover of education and the economic violence being done by student debt, and to empower young people to reassert their voice in the societal debates that will shape their futures.