Giving students a voice
OLSON: Giving students a voice
Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013 7:00 am
As the proud parent of two children, I understand the importance of engaging with our young people, the future leaders of our nation. As a congressman, it's also my job to fully understand the issues facing the various constituencies that comprise the 22nd Congressional District of Texas.
That's why early in my tenure, I established a Congressional Youth Advisory Council (CYAC). Students from across our area are invited to apply to serve on the council and provide advice about issues that impact themselves and their peers, as well as learn how government affects their lives. As we debate issues like student loan programs, and the escalating cost of college and access to a quality higher education, their feedback is critically important.
We recently concluded the 2012-13 session of CYAC, which graduated forty-seven students. This year's class was made up of nine students from Dawson High, one from Manvel High, two from Pearland High, three from Austin High, two from Elkins High, six from Lamar Consolidated, three from George Ranch, seven from Travis High, three from Needville High, three from Kempner High, two from Ridgepoint High, two from Hightower High, two from Clear Lake High, one from Deer Park High and one from Lutheran South. It was made up of a diverse group of students from around our community and from different backgrounds. The CYAC brings these youth leaders together with business and community leaders from across our area to engage students and listen, deliberate and give advice for dealing with future challenges.
Four meetings were held throughout the year. The first meeting was an introduction to the program, the second focused on the importance of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines and the third focused on federal agencies working with Congress. In our final meeting, we heard from three guest speakers with different levels of government experience from within our community.
While roughly 35% of our population is under the age of 25, the views and concerns of young adults can often go unheard by their leaders and elected officials. Every citizen in this great nation deserves to have their voice heard. From the first meeting of this advisory council, it was clear that these young people are the leaders of tomorrow with great passion and insight into the challenges that lie ahead. They shared their individual stories and the stories of other young adults from within their communities. While the group discussed critical issues facing our nation, the conversation was inspirational and optimistic, drawing on the experiences of the adult professionals. It also gave the students information that allowed them to better form opinions and understand how our national challenges will impact our communities.
I challenge all young people to get involved in their communities and follow their dreams. Together, we can build on the ideas and creativity of these young people in solving our nation's problems so that we can provide our children and grandchildren the future that they deserve. For more information about the CYAC, please visit my website at http://olson.house.gov or contact my office at (281) 494-2690.