Advocating for Youth
YE4C’s first editorial board was in place from February 2020 through June 2020. The group was made up of 10 young people from around the country. They helped organize and improve content for the YE4C website. They also created content for YE4C and gave feedback to federal agencies. We invited each editorial board member to reflect on their time with the editorial board and to tell us more about themselves and their hopes for the future.
Today’s Inspiring Story follows Dorcas Olatunji. She is 17 years old and from New Castle, Delaware. Dorcas will be a freshman at Northeastern this fall and will study Economic and Business Administration.
How did you hear about the YE4C Editorial Board?
I learned about this Editorial Board position from a newsletter. I am a Student Representative on Delaware’s State Board of Education. They send out a newsletter on a regular basis with a ton of valuable information. I was subscribed to the newsletter, saw the notice about this position, then reached out to the person listed. I remember it was right before the deadline to turn in nominations when I expressed interest. Then, a couple of weeks later, I got word from the YE4C staff that I got an interview. I was accepted and on the board by the end of December 2019.
What made you interested in working as a YE4C Editorial Board member?
I was initially interested because I saw it as a way to expand my impact beyond being the first Student Representative [on my state’s Board of Education]. I could connect to others and increase young people’s access to information. Once I started, I was really excited that YE4C was a federal platform for youth engagement that included student voices. I particularly like that they also have a space for advertising opportunities. I was able to create an ad for our federal websites to emphasize summer internships and opportunities for young people.
What was your favorite part about being on the YE4C Editorial Board?
Looking back at my time as an Editorial Board member, my most memorable memory happened way back in April. We were giving feedback but it wasn’t for a specific project. All of us spent an hour and a half bouncing ideas off of each other and checking in with each other. And there wasn’t a minute of awkward silence the entire time. It started out as a wellbeing check-up but it ended up being a time to share our individual projects. I was able to relate to a lot of issues my fellow board members brought up and realized how much we have in common. It was interesting to see connections apart from the Editorial Board work. I got to know a lot of the board members in a more casual format. The people connections have definitely been my favorite part.
How have you been involved in public service work before your time with YE4C?
The biggest thing has been being the first student representative for the Delaware State Board of Education. I consider myself a youth advocate. The different spaces I’m involved in knew what I was passionate about. Many of my mentors, like my guidance counselor, for example, told me about the open position on the Board. I also have a twin sister, and we both applied together. I hadn’t been involved in education a lot in the past but thought it would be a great platform to make real change for fellow students. I submitted all the necessary paperwork. It wasn’t until April when I was called to the front office in the middle of class. I was a little nervous because I don’t usually get in trouble. I went to the main office where they told me that I got the position! I started last June and it has been a transformative year-long experience.
What advice would you give to other young people interested in entrepreneurship?
I always say to explore and don’t be afraid to fail. There are so many things in life that aren’t designed to help us figure out who we are. It is so important to find something that makes you excited to get up. The class of 2020 is in a unique situation. Many colleges have made standardized tests optional. This has allowed many students to focus on their passions and interests.
I would also say to have role models. It is kind of cliché but my family has been the biggest role model. I am 1 of 5 kids and my mom has always pushed me to new, great things. She also encouraged us to get the most from the things we enjoyed. When I was younger, I did every activity. I ran, danced, played soccer, played the flute, and joined the choir. My older siblings and mother also always reminded me to never give up. My twin sister is also a peer role model because we always push each other to go after our goals and give 100%. They have played a pivotal role in my life. I definitely suggest having people like that in your life.