Student Advisory Council gives high school students a voice in government

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.

“What 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.

“I have always been very passionate about social justice issues and especially politics… I thought [the board]was a great opportunity for students to have a voice in government, ”said Devenney.

SeniorCaitlin 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 groups… ”said 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.

“In each subcommittee there is a chairman and they are responsible for checking with the board of directors,” 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.

Senior Lauren Colombe

Eshoo acts as a mentor for students involved in counseling.

“She is a powerhouse. She’s really passionate about creating a student advisory council… she thinks it’s really important to empower all students, ”said 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, ”Dove 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 [subcommittee’s proposals] were different examples and ranges, so it was really interesting at the end to see each other’s ideas, ”Dove 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.

“What’s great is that everyone was really passionate about what they were doing,” Dove said.

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