Youth and Government: “I’m Going to Break the Stereotypes.”


When I look around my community, I see history and culture. I always thought it was the perfect place, but I noticed it was kind of like living in a bubble. A lot of times, subconsciously, I found myself falling into the stereotypes. Being a Hispanic, Latino, low income girl. Just a lot of times kind of influenced, I think, the decisions I had to make in life. To make my community a better place, I
feel like I have to break those stereotypes. I feel like through Youth and Government, I was finally able to truly realize what I want to do in life. I want to be a politician. I do want to make a difference for the people who raised me, for the people who have given me so much. At my YMCA, I got involved in a program called Youth and Government. The model legislature and core program where high school students my age get to explore different government areas, and they get to act — well, I don’t want to say act because we actually are at the program areas we are. This is for real, because a lot of these issues, you know are part of the reality of our state government. More often than not, I do feel like this program has a major impact. on the California Legislator, seeing as how our bills do get funneled into the legislature, and are considered by Governor Jerry Brown. I super nervously just applied for the governor’s lobbyist position. No one in my delegation had really ever ran for a position before. At first I was nervous because I’m in a small delegation and from a low-income community, Boyle Heights, where all our delegates are part of the scholarship program, with Youth and Government, so I just felt like for awhile there I was putting myself down, but when I saw how welcoming all the other governor’s lobbyists were and how the rest of the governors administration were, I really found my place in Youth and Government. My job was to debate for and against bills. For example, if I got a bill on education, then I can do in-depth reports on it. I was able to research, do my own research. I was able to speak passionately to all the senators in the room and all the assembly members in the room. We can make change in those areas that are most relevant to us. One way we have tried to do that this year is through the “Every Student Matters” campaign. I don’t know if you remember, but two weeks ago we did one of our bills. Javier, who did a really good job with his author speech. Do you remember what it was? Uh, Parking? Willful Defiance Bill. Hopefully, by better defining Willful Defiance, we’ll let teachers have that power over their students to suspend students, but only being able to do that for
legitimate reasons, and that’s something that Youth and Government, I feel can really change. Sometimes it is like the real world where you feel belittled. As a small delegation, sometimes you feel like you don’t have as much power as the bigger delegations
do. So this year my focus was on getting each delegate to speak in their roles, to stand up in their committees, to stand up in their sessions and just speak their voice. Everybody had an equal stake in their investment and they felt like they were a part of something greater than themselves. Wow. Next year I don’t know how I’m going to do that, how am I going to be that? Now we have a lot of youth within the delegation who want to follow in her footsteps. I’m really proud of you, Sabrina, and congratulations on your final year, as a senior in high school. And you have represented your community so well and represented the Y so well. And I’m going to watch you for the rest of my life, because I know you’re going to continue to do great things. In my opinion, no matter how small the delegation you’re from, if you have a voice, you can use it and people will listen.

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