Mikva showed me what the power of being a teenager is: That you do have power, that your age doesn’t really matter and you can make a difference no matter how small it is.
Tell us about your Mikva Experience?
Mikva showed me that youth have power and voice, because in high school you think that your vote doesn’t count or you don’t have a voice and that politicians don’t care about you.
When I was at Mikva, there were a lot of things happening with Chicago Public Schools regarding policy changes, curriculum and school closures that made it seem like the authorities weren’t taking into any consideration what the students needed or wanted. So I took a trip to Springfield with Mikva and met with some state legislators and it really opened my eyes to the fact that they would listen to young people!
We worked a lot on writing skills too. We wrote a couple bills that were introduced to the Illinois legislature. The Young Women’s Leadership program involved writing and being able to articulate what your opinions were. We also did a lot of public speaking and practiced talking to adults, which I think when you’re 16 and 17 is something you really do need to learn—how to communicate your point to someone in a way that they’ll respect it and actually take it into consideration and not just disregard you.
What Programs Were You Involved in at Mikva?
I did the Young Women’s Leadership Program & Mikva Elections Club. I was an Election Judge too.
What are you doing now?
I’m a Federal Law Enforcement Officer. I work with the US Department of Commerce National Marine Fisheries Law Enforcement office. I basically enforce federal conservation laws both on land, and offshore, and up in the air—wherever they apply!
How has your experience as a Mikva Challenge youth informed where you are today?
Mikva influenced me in a lot ways. It opened my eyes to other parts of the city beyond my neighborhood, which I thought was a hugely valuable opportunity. At Mikva, you’re not just in the bubble of your high school and the bubble of your neighborhood—you get to see other high schools, other kids, other neighborhoods. It also taught me written communication skills and oral communication skills. But most importantly, it showed me what the power of being a teenager is: That you do have power, that your age doesn’t really matter, and you can make a difference no matter how small it is.