When 17-year-old Bronx high school student Hebh Jamal decided to organize a city-wide student walkout to protest President Donald Trump's policies last week, the idea was to focus on the recently-instated travel ban, barring refugees for at least four months and non-citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries for three.

Jamal, a Palestinian-American Muslim and seasoned activist, wasn't deterred when Seattle Judge James Robart ruled to temporarily suspend the policy. "I think we need to capitalize on this momentum," Jamal told Broadly in a recent interview. "I think protests and the total outrage were what made the judge and parts of government realize it may take sacrificing your job. I want more of that: people willing to risk something for the greater good."

Then, just as hundreds of high school and college students left their classrooms on Tuesday to rally in Foley Square, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as Education Secretary after a history-making 50-50 vote (Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie). The scope of the protest quickly broadened, as students decried DeVos's lack of experience and conflicts of interest, including investments in Performant Business Services, Inc., a debt collection agency that collects student loans.

"They [the students] are really woke around student loan debt, watching the generation in front of them not be able to pay their loans or find jobs," 28-year-old organizer Carlene Pinto, campaign manager for the New York Immigration Coalition, told Gothamist. "It's like, 'Oh you guys are paying attention to all of the Sallie May memes on Instagram."

According to organizers, students walked out of more than 25 schools on Tuesday—public, private and charter—in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. In the spitting rain, they mic-checked with activists, many of them students.

"It was the youth who walked out during the civil rights movement. It was the youth who tore at the Berlin wall with their bare hands. It was the youth who stood in front of tanks at Tiananmen Square,” said 17-year-old Youssef Abdelzaher, a high school senior from Astoria.

In the same Broadly interview, Jamal explained why she felt it was important not only to protest Trump and his policies en masse, but to do it in the middle of the school day:

I always hear from people, "Why can't you just do it after school?" It doesn't have the same significance. I always frame it in the terms of labor. When you're a worker and you want to strike, you're doing it as a disruptive force of your labor. "I'm not going to continue as if this is normal right now because it's not." I feel like it's the same for students. We're part of this kind of workforce. So if we're going to protest something it makes sense to disrupt it and be part of a movement. We can't just continue on normally with our lives and do it after school.

Before leading a march to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) building at 26 Federal Plaza, organizers circulated a flyer outlining next steps, including monthly student organizing meetings and a commitment to consistent, nonviolent protest.

"Everyone should have a voice, especially us," Jordan, a 14-year-old freshman at Beacon High School in Hell's Kitchen told Gothamist. "We are the next generation and it will be up to us in the future to run the country."