Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – Generation “Me” to Generation “Citizen”

Name: Alexandria West
From: New York, New York
Grade: High School Senior (Class of 2017)
School: Pace University
Votes: 2

Upon hearing about Generation Citizen, I knew I wanted to get involved
with a program as incredible as this. This organization impacts youth
participation by impacting inner-city student’s levels of
comprehension and confidence in public policy. My opportunity to get
involved was in a role called a “Democracy Coach”.

After a weekend of training, I acted as a teacher in a classroom to guide
students through a project which directly impacted their community
through advocating for or against certain policies. In my case, I
helped students advocate for a bill in the New York Assembly that
would create a commission to create better training and more
transparency in the New York Police Department. Our goal, as a class,
was to help deter police brutality.

I spent an average of two hours in the classroom, an hour in meetings,
and three hours in prep work outside of the classroom to ensure that
my class would get the most out of this experience. My biggest
challenge, though, was not the time commit, but rather trying to
relate to students who came from a completely different background
than myself and making it possible for them to trust me. I had to
bring this group together to make them into a team, even against many
of their wills. Eventually, we were able to bond and work toward our
common goal.

Perhaps the most inspirational moment was what I refer to as the “click”.
My students realized how important, crucial, and real our project
was. Up until that moment everything, to them, was theoretical, but
once they realized that they were making a real impact on their
community, the entire project changed. This made me so proud and made
me realize I was able to make a change in these students’ lives.
This influence will last for generations to come. Their involvement
in their community will spread to their children and so on and so
forth. To think this started with me creates a sense of pure pride.
This will create more youth and citizen participation in our
government, and ultimately make for a better world.

As for a career path, I do not necessarily want to be a teacher, but I
do want to work in politics. As a future politician, it is extremely
important to me to see every citizen participating in their
government to ensure diverse representation. In addition, this has
helped me to gain different urban perspectives in contrast to the
suburbia I grew up in.

This volunteer opportunity was extremely “forward looking” because
while this individual project will affect the community here and
today, the overall impact on the students’ lives is progressive and
the effects will be seen for generations to come. I am proud to be a
part of Generation Citizen, an amazing opportunity for students and
volunteers alike.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".