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NYITCOM Student is Congresswomans Guest at State of the Union

College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) student Briteny Xu was Congresswoman Grace Meng’s guest at the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., where they advocated for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Mar 21, 2024

Pictured from left: NYITCOM student Briteny Xu met with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Congresswoman Grace Meng while in Washington, D.C.

During her time studying for a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at Hunter College, Briteny Xu worked as a physical therapy aide, using hands-on techniques to help her patients. Wanting to take her studies and medical skills to the next level, Xu came to the College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM), where she is excited to pursue a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.

While Xu’s higher education has taken her from New York City to Long Island as she studies for different degree levels, one thing has remained constant—her need for affordable Internet access. Xu and her family in Queens, N.Y., rely on the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to get online.

Passed through Congress in 2021, the ACP is a Federal Communications Commission benefit program. But as it stands, this opportunity for discounted Internet service and technologic gear, like laptops and tablets, is set to lose funding by the end of April 2024, cutting affordable web access for its more than 23 million subscribers.

Hoping to affect change, Xu reached out to U.S. Representative Grace Meng, who represents New York’s Sixth Congressional District (northern Queens). Consequently, Meng invited Xu to be her guest at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 7.

“Countless families benefit from this program, and in today’s digital society, having access to reliable Internet connectivity is essential,” says Xu, whose online connection is critical for her classwork. “My grandparents, who live at home with my family, use the Internet daily, too. Without the ACP, we would be at a loss for affordable web access.”

Xu spent two days in Washington, D.C., where she and Meng championed the ACP’s importance and advocated for more funding. The pair met with U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who represents New York’s 8th Congressional District (southeastern Brooklyn), to further discuss ACP matters. And, of course, Xu was able to squeeze in some sightseeing at the White House and Washington Monument.

As she still has a few years left before her NYITCOM graduation, Xu is hopeful for the ACP’s renewed funding. Without it, she—and countless other students across the country—is at risk of not having affordable online access to support their studies.

“I am honored and thankful to Congresswoman Meng for the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., where we advocated for a program that has been critical to my family,” Xu says. “Attending the State of the Union address was an unforgettable experience, but more importantly, I hope I was able to be exemplary of the need for affordable Internet access.”

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