ST. PAUL EDUCATION - Not long after the school year wrapped up, the Government of Alberta announced a new Minister's Youth Council. The council brings youth together from across the province to discuss provincial programs and initiatives. This year, two St. Paul Education students were chosen to be part of the council.
Sehar Qureshi is a student at Two Hills School, and Burhanuddin Yamani is a student at École Mallaig School. Both students are excited about the opportunity, and are hoping to use the experience to help their communities in the long-term.
Yamani credits one of his teachers, Mr. David Michaud, for encouraging him to apply to the youth council. Yamani sees the opportunity as an introduction to politics, and a good first step to learning about the government, in a hands-on environment.
He also hopes to use the experience to make new connections and network with like-minded individuals.
"You never know when you'll make those contacts," says Yamani. He also sees the opportunity as one where he will gain leadership experience.
Qureshi says she found out about the youth council through an announcement at school.
"I was excited about the opportunity to use my voice to make the education system better, and immediately decided to apply," she said.
And like Yamani, she also hopes to gain leadership experience and meet other like-minded youth from around the province, and "broaden my perspective on education."
For Qureshi, her main long-term goal is to actively help her community.
"We take schools and education for granted, when it truly is the key to success in life. If I can have a well-rounded view on education and how it impacts others from different backgrounds and lifestyles, I can have a better understanding on how to support my community in a positive way," she explains.
Qureshi says she believes it's important for everyone to use their voice and to be heard.
"Nothing gets better by staying silent and there are a multitude of issues facing today’s youth. Voicing concerns in a productive manner is the absolute best thing you can do to make a difference. By doing so, people like the Minister of Education can actively find effective solutions," she says.
The process to be accepted as part of the youth council involves a few steps. First, youth must put their names forward and apply. Then, some are selected for an interview, which Yamani says was similar to a job interview. The final step was accepting an invitation to be part of the council.
Yamani admits he was surprised to be chosen for the council, but is clearly happy and excited about the opportunity.
The youth council will be meeting three times in Edmonton during a 10-month term.
The council is made up of 41 junior and senior high students with diverse interests, identities, backgrounds and perspectives from all regions of Alberta. Students on the council provide perspectives on a number of education topics, according to the Government of Alberta.
One of the many goals of the council is to help youth develop skills to become effective participating citizens. The council and province as a whole benefits from the council because it can access "valuable input provided by students with a diversity of opinions, ideas and lived experiences," according to the provincial government.