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news

A Note From The Editors

by frank news editors
© Frank

essays

Education Has To Be The Forefront of Civics

by frank news
November 20, 2018

April Snape [Hunter College] and Kat Martucci [Fordham] reflect on their roles as Democracy Coaches and educators. 

April Snape

I wrote the blog below after my first semester facilitating Action Civics in order to educate young New Yorkers to find their civic voice. Not only did my students have the privilege of creating a new narrative through this program, but I am also fortunate because I have gained the confidence to  stand up for what I believe in, too. This confidence has not only helped me in GC, but it has also helped me in school, work and in other areas of my life. Before Generation Citizen, I lacked the ability to speak up on issues that mattered to me in fear of being ridiculed. In addition to my lack of confidence,  I also did not have a framework to navigate or explore  issues further. Generation Citizen has become a vital factor in my development as a multi faceted leader. Not only has GC prepared me to step into the role of a Chapter Director where I am responsible for managing a Chapter of X volunteers,but GChas also prepared me to step into the role of being a member of GC’s Associate Board. Without Generation Citizen, I am unsure of where I would stand, and what I would fall for. Young women have been struggling to find their political voice because of sexist ideologies that are still prevalent in our society. It’s extremely important to me to be an example to the young women that partake in GC. Beforehand, I was not equipped to take on this leadership position, but being in GC pushed and prepared me to do so.

Serving as a Generation Citizen Democracy Coach, from the Hunter College Chapter, in the fall of 2017 gave me the platform and voice to not only help students learn the importance of being civically engaged, but to aid them in becoming college-ready. Although I was a very bright and promising student, my high-school to college transition was extremely challenging. In my students, I saw a direct reflection of who I was just 4 years ago, as a high school senior.

Like myself, many of them are amongst the first in their families to consider a higher education and I wanted to ensure that their transition was easier and that they had more information than I did.

By exposing Generation Citizen program participants from Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice to my former school, Howard University, I wanted them to know that college is within their reach and that I am a testament that you can make it there and beyond regardless of your family history. At Howard, I teamed up with my former classmate to compose a panel where current students at the University explained the challenges that they encountered during their high school to college transition and at Howard. I also scheduled one-on-one meetings with an admissions counselor to talk about their application.

By bridging this gap, I helped my GC students to redefine the status quo all while learning how to be civically engaged. Thankfully, Generation Citizen gave me the platform to help build a new narrative.

Not only did my students have the privilege of creating a new narrative through this program but I was also fortunate because I gained the confidence to always stand up for what I believe in. This confidence has not only helped me in GC but has helped me in school, work and in other areas of my life. Before Generation Citizen, I lacked the ability to speak up on issues that mattered to me in fear of being ridiculed. In addition to my lack of assertion I also did not have a framework to navigate or explore my issues further. Generation Citizen has become a vital part in my development as a multi faceted leader. Not only have they prepared me to step into the role of a Chapter Director but they have also prepared me to step into the role of being a member of GC’s Associate board. Without Generation Citizen, I am still unsure of where I would stand, and what I would fall for. Young women have been struggling to find their political voice because of sexist ideologies that are still prevalent in our society. It’s extremely important to me to be an example to the young women that partake in GC. Beforehand, I was not equipped to take on a leadership position, but being in GC pushed me to do so.

I want people to know that being a Democracy Coach is so much more than teaching a lesson, it’s about actively changing the atmosphere of each school that you walk into. I never want any student that I encounter to have doubts about their abilities to apply, attend and succeed in a college environment. I also want students to know that being civically and politically engaged is not as frightening as people make it seem. Thankfully, Generation Citizen gave me the opportunity to convey these message.

Kat Martucci

Four years ago, I joined Generation Citizen because I was interested in civics and leadership. Today, I’m still a Democracy Coach because of the ever-increasing necessity of youth engagement in politics. More importantly, I have learned that the core of Generation Citizen is community. It is the community that I have become a part of that sustains the energy and passion I bring every day to the classroom.

Through building relationships with high school students in the community, I learn what they care about the most and which community issues need the government’s attention. Originally, I was focused on developing a unique project, accomplishing our action goals, and impressing judges at Civics Day. Over time, my priority as a Democracy Coach has shifted. While Civics Day is still important, I take the most pride in helping my students; discover which issues matter to them, learn how politics affect their lives, and believe in their agency to make change through strategic civic engagement. The most memorable moments have been when students speak up and share their stories with the confidence that they have the power and tools to make a difference.

Above all, Generation Citizen has taught me to be community-centered in all that I do. After graduation, I plan to continue engaging with my community, wherever that may be. Generation Citizen has taught me that in any form of public service, whether education or policy work, the most important aspect is to ask, listen, and amplify the voices in my community, so that together we can make change.