Using My Voice to Create Change
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 Dayja Burton. She is 17 years old and a rising freshman in college. She has used her voice to initiate change in her town and hopes to pursue a degree in business this fall.
How did you get your job on the YE4C Editorial Board?
I honestly don’t remember exactly how I heard about the opportunity because it just seems like so long ago. Most likely, one of my teachers or mentors emailed me and asked me to apply. Most people around me knew that I liked being in leadership roles where I could talk to people about issues surrounding our cities. When I looked more into it, another thing that stood out to me was that the Editorial Board wouldn’t just be people from my city. I was going to meet different people from different areas with different perspectives. I’m from the East Coast so I have a one-sided East Coast perspective, but there were people from the West Coast and Midwest also sharing their ideas. That part was really nice.
What did you do as an YE4C Editorial Board member?
I like being able to voice my opinion and call attention to problems I see within my community and the world. Working on the Editorial Board allowed me to do that by content planning for young people. When I officially joined in February, I mainly read over different content proposals and brainstormed ideas for areas that needed more attention. In general, I worked on behind the scenes initiatives that make a difference in young people’s lives. YE4C provides so many non-traditional path options and resources, unlike other sites. Those opportunities and resources are needed and I was able to contribute to the development of that.
What work have you been involved in before your time with YE4C?
I mostly learn about opportunities through my school or their newsletters. Sometimes, I have teachers or mentors recommend and inform me about other opportunities as well. That’s how I learned about being a Student Representative for my state’s Board of Education. My focus is on postsecondary education. I urge schools to give students financial and literacy classes. It’s not that kids don’t want to learn but that they want to also learn more applicable and functional skills. For many people, they don’t learn these things in high school. I also provide input for testing policies in different subcommittees.
Through the state Board of Education, I can speak at different launch events to talk about mental and social health experiences. I also urge other young people to take these matters seriously. My job allows me to advocate for counselors and more mental health support staff in high school. A lot of this work ended up putting me on a youth outreach team. We pulled together an event for students across the city to share their experiences and provide ideas for new initiatives.
What advice would you give to other young people in high school right now?
Honestly, the generation entering high school right now is very different than the one I grew up in. I didn’t get a cell phone or laptop until I was in middle school or high school, but many kids now are getting these items at 10 or 12 years old. So they seem to be more involved in technology and social media. But I would urge people to get involved with some organization at their school. It might be through sports or clubs. Just do something. Find that one thing you are passionate about and delve into it. Doing extracurriculars makes sure that you are having fun while also focusing on academics. My outlet was flag football. It really made me excited to go to school despite classes being difficult. I would tell students to not be afraid of teachers. Be honest with them because you will be surprised at how helpful and supportive teachers can be.