In this week’s “I Am HISD,” which features district students, graduates, employees, volunteers, and other team members, Bellaire High School senior Amy Fan talks about why she got involved in the HISD Student Congress, what her goals are for this school year, and the biggest hurdle she had to get over in embracing her role as speaker of the congress.
You served as the outreach chair of the Student Congress during its inaugural year of operation. What made you decide to throw your hat in the ring for the top leadership position?
You make me sound like a politician. Actually, I’ve been really interested in education reform for a while, even before the Student Congress was founded (mostly just through reading and watching videos), and I’ve come to embrace its mission. And after being part of the Student Congress Cabinet in its founding year, I learned a lot more about the district, both from a student perspective and an adult perspective, and it seemed logical to run for speaker my senior year.
Now that you’re speaker of the congress (and in your last year of high school), what goals have you set for yourself, both individually and as SOTC?
Ultimately, with the Student Congress, my goal is to make sure 1) that students feel like they have a valid voice in their education and 2) that the Student Congress lasts beyond me. Of course, both of these goals encompass a bunch of smaller things that go into the day-to-day functioning of the Congress, but that’s kind of the big picture. My personal goals are more straightforward: enjoy senior year and my classes, be more efficient, get more sleep, and get into college.
What do you plan to study and at which university? Do you know what you want to be yet, careerwise?
Still working on that — it’s college application season. My list currently has a couple of state schools, a couple Ivies (Ivy League), and a few others. My plan is to major in math and economics, but I’m expecting that to change. My work with the Student Congress has definitely impacted my future plans, but I’m still not sure where that’s going to lead yet.
What are some of the congress’s priorities as an organization this school year?
As an organization, the Student Congress’ mission is to represent the student voice. And at our meetings, there have been a lot of issues that students have brought up — everything from the quality of the food and teachers to school laptops and resources in general. And those issues are what we’re really trying to address this year. We’re working on how to best present these issues at our monthly meetings with the district administration and work collaboratively to find a solution.
Another issue is making the Student Congress accessible to all high schools students in the district. Since the district is so large, it’s sometimes difficult for students to drive across the city to come to our meetings. We have cabinet members who go to schools 25 miles apart, and it can be challenging to get everyone in the same room. We’ve decided to start meeting in different parts of the city each month, and we just launched our chapter system that will hopefully get more students involved.
At the heart of it all, I think we’re trying to make students realize that if there’s an issue at their school, no matter how big or small, they can do something about it and that there are other people (both students and adults) who are willing to help. Their concerns are truly valid and are worth hearing.
If you could offer upcoming Congress members (particularly aspiring leaders) one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t fear the uncertain, but rather embrace it. Then again, if someone had told me that a few years ago, I probably would have said, “But that’s scary!” That was really the biggest hurdle I had to get over, and recognizing that has made me look at things differently.
If you have a question you want to ask, ask it. If there’s someone you want to talk to, talk to them. If you want to go to an event, go to it. People are almost always more than willing to help, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there. Embrace the entire process.