The Student Advisory Council, established by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo in 1993, enables high school students who live in the 18th Congressional District to discuss policy development and possibly share their proposals with Congress.
Seniors Caitlin Devenney and Lauren Dove were on the Student Advisory Council last year and plan to apply this year as well.
âWhat can I personally do with my opportunities to make changes? Said Devenney.
Dove was motivated to join the board because she observed that young people were often disinterested and excluded from government.
âI have always been very passionate about social justice issues and especially politicsâ¦ I thought [the board]was a great opportunity for students to have a voice in government, âsaid Devenney.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo regularly sat in meetings, but her staff regularly led and facilitated the board.
“[The staff] would start by talking about any recent news. Then we would chat, go through the agenda and break into groupsâ¦ âsaid Devenny.
According to Dove, students were able to reach out to staff to bring in faculty and other influential people related to the topic to be interviewed.
Each year, the board of directors reflects and decides on a global topic, last year being climate change. In addition to the main topic, there are sub-committees relating to specific parts of the overall topic.
âIn each subcommittee there is a chairman and they are responsible for checking with the board of directors,â Dove said.
Throughout the year, each committee begins with research on its sub-theme, using the research to come up with a proposal, a final document, and then the final presentation.
According to Dove, some committees last year included transport, climate diplomacy, carbon capture, solar power, nuclear power, biodiversity, deforestation and agriculture.
Eshoo acts as a mentor for students involved in counseling.
âShe is a powerhouse. She’s really passionate about creating a student advisory councilâ¦ she thinks it’s really important to empower all students, âsaid Devenney.
According to Devenny, Eshoo takes every proposition seriously.
“You might ask [Eshoo] questions and [both]she and her DC staff would review your proposals and provide advice, âDove said.
Final proposals presented by the student advisory council at the end of the year are deposited with the Library of Congress, Devenney said.
“Each [subcommitteeâs proposals] were different examples and ranges, so it was really interesting at the end to see each other’s ideas, âDove said.
According to Dove, during their final presentation, not only Eshoo was in attendance, but also other members of Congress and influential decision-makers.
Devenney and Dove both heard about the opportunity from Donnie, the college and career representative at MVHS, via email, outlining the opportunity, including a link to the Student Advisory Council website.
Devenney and Dove agree that the student community was an integral part of their experience on the Student Advisory Council.
The students on the board came from varied backgrounds and passions, which was one of the reasons Devenny enjoyed working with them.
âWhat’s great is that everyone was really passionate about what they were doing,â Dove said.