Amanda
Spelman College

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Read her essay below!

"Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what make the instrument stretch — what makes you go beyond the norm."

 

What does this quote mean to you?

 

 

Going over and beyond the norms means making a difference in the community in which you live. As youth we are represented in every country, in every culture, and occupy a central place in society. We are a symbol of progress, and we represent the continuity of life. However, throughout our families, schools and communities, the voices of the youth have been continually silenced, repressed, devalued, and dismissed for years. We remain largely invisible and absent from the decision-making process and rarely are invited to have a seat at the table. 

As a resident of the city of Sterling Heights, Michigan, I was saddened to learn it had been labeled Sterling Whites for decades. Discovering that the city in which I was born and raised in was perceived in this way was quite disturbing and I felt less then valued as an African American and as a youth in my community. 

 

One of my proudest moments was when I became a founding member of the Youth Advisory Board for the city of Sterling Heights. I felt compelled to serve my community and be a voice on behalf of the youth. As the only African American on the board, that further ignited the spark within me. The Youth Advisory Board was formed to promote youth involvement in local government, increase civic engagement among youth, assist in the development of new youth programs, and advise the Mayor, City Council and City Administration on youth and teen issues.

 

I have continued to go beyond the norm throughout my journey with the Youth Advisory Board, I have galvanized more and more of my peers to donate their time, expertise, and talents. The Youth Advisory Board and I have impacted numerous youths in our community through various community events, such as voter registration drives, food-drives, and cleaning of the local parks. As the Co- Chairman of the Local Government Awareness Committee, I work closely with the Mayor and city officials. My membership on the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) has empowered me as young leader. I have learned to be more assertive, more active and a more responsible citizen in my community.  Through my work, I have been appointed by the Mayor of Sterling Heights to serve on the newly formed African American Coalition as the only Youth Representative. This is only the beginning... I Will Not Be Silenced.