When 21-year-old Trey Leveque was in eighth grade, he ran for Student Body President. He had toyed with the idea of running before but always got too nervous. But that year, he decided to take a leap and give everything to his campaign, despite feeling like he had little chance of winning against more experienced students. “As I campaigned, I started to realize that people saw something within me that I had yet to see myself,” he recalled. “They believed in me. I ended up winning the election and learning a lot through the experience, both about leading others and myself. I will truly never forget it.”
As Trey entered high school, he leveraged leadership skills and confidence from his campaign into an opportunity to make a difference for his peers as they pursued higher education.
“I realized that students today are not being met where they are and that something needed to change.”
Even though both of Trey’s parents went to college, he found the application process difficult and noticed that many adults couldn’t relate to it anymore. “Even within my school district and high school, I could see that many students were not receiving the support and resources that they needed to be successful on their journey of pursuing higher education,” he said. “I realized that students today are not being met where they are and that something needed to change.”
As a result, he joined Reach Higher’s Better Make Room campaign because it focused on targeting Gen Z students and reaching them directly where they are as they navigate the college process. “Seeing firsthand the struggles that many students face to pursue higher education from the experiences that my peers and myself encountered, I realized a few years ago that I wanted to find ways to better provide resources and support to students,” he said.
Now, Trey is a Program Associate at Reach Higher’s UpNext program and a student at Arizona State University. He collaborates on the creation and provides technical assistance for the UpNext texting initiative, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The texting campaign has texted over 300,000 high school seniors through college freshman with reminders to fill out their FAFSA, tips to think about when applying to college, how to get involved on campus, and advice for making the most of your first year of college. Before this, he worked on Former First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Inaugural Student Advisory Board and completed an internship in Washington D.C. as a Reach Higher Fellow.
As an exceptional Gen Z’er using his voice for good, Trey was honored for his work as part of The ConversationaLIST in the Education category. “I use my voice for good by amplifying the voices of others and sharing why it is so important to improve the access and equity of higher education,” he said. “I have been able to apply the experiences of my peers and myself to create content for students to support them on their journey.”
“I think it is also important to recognize that your voice might shift over time as well, and that is okay.”
Trey wants to encourage young people to be uncomfortable throughout their journey to find their voice. “For some people, it can take their entire life to find their voice, but what is so wonderful about that is everything that you gain along the way,” he said. “I think it is also important to recognize that your voice might shift over time as well, and that is okay.”
As a current senior in college, Trey understands how difficult it can be to plan for the future, especially over the past year. However, he plans on pursuing an MBA and MPA and run for political office one day.“The world is continuously changing, and I am very open to opportunities that have not even presented themselves to me,” he said.
The Conversationalist resonates with Trey because he lives out its mission every day. He is committed to amplifying Gen Z voices, breaking open echo chambers, and unifying the world through his work.
Trey describes a unified world as one where people hone in on their skills, talents, and passions to work together to build a more inclusive, connected, and positive world. “As Gen Z can build a more unified world by learning from the past, listening to each other, and coming together to create solutions to our world's most pressing issues,” he said.
“If all the individuals or parties involved in the conversation can listen as well as be respectful of others, there can be a lot that everyone can learn.”
To break open his echo chamber, Trey goes out of his way to have conversations with friends and family members that don’t share all of his beliefs so he can expand his viewpoints. He also makes sure to consume various credible news sources to make sure he gets varying perspectives on a topic. “I approach conversations with those who don't agree with me with an open mind,” he said. “If all the individuals or parties involved in the conversation can listen as well as be respectful of others, there can be a lot that everyone can learn.”
The Conversationalist couldn’t be prouder of Trey Leveque as he pursues a more educated world. Keep up with him on Instagram to learn more about his work, and follow Reach Higher to learn more about his work.