Out of 150 applicants from all over Washington, Ferndale School Board student member Cuong Nguyen was selected as one of 11 appointees to the Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council earlier this month.
“I was shocked that I was appointed,” Nguyen said. “It just felt like, wow, this is amazing.”
The youth advisory council is a nonpartisan advisory group made up of teens from throughout the state. The group advocates for youth-centric policies, meets with state legislators in Olympia, and even writes legislation. Nguyen will serve from 2021 through 2023.
In the 2021 legislative session, the youth advisory council was involved in numerous bills, including measures that banned inappropriate usage of Native Americans as school mascots, allowed ninth graders to participate in high school-based college programs, and required public schools to list behavioral health organizations’ contact information on their websites. The latter bill was completely written and lobbied for by members of the youth advisory council.
Nguyen said one of his goals with the council is to promote the power of student voice and change school environments in Washington for the better.
“Right now, schools are sticking with the old-fashioned way [of doing things], and that's excluding lots of minorities and isn’t inclusive for every student,” he said. “That takes away opportunities for students.”
Nguyen -- who is also the senior class president-elect at Ferndale High School -- believes politics could be a great career path for him. The youth advisory council would give him ample experience in that field, he said.
“I have so many opportunities to get directly involved in our government and our schools and community,” Nguyen said.
In his acceptance letter to Nguyen, Lieutenant Governor Danny Heck praised the incoming Ferndale High School senior’s critical thinking skills and passion for service.
“I am confident you will take this multi-year commitment seriously and represent young people in Washington well,” Heck wrote.
For more information on the youth advisory council, visit https://www.walyac.org.