JSA State: SoCal (California)
When was the pivotal moment where you decided to join JSA?
"I joined JSA, just as a naive freshman who thought the club sounded cool. I didn't have much of a stance in politics or political views, and I was open to hearing out any political position. Thought talks and debates were exciting to me, and I was very devoted to the topics, whether gun control, immigration, healthcare, etc. Naturally, as a freshman, I joined clubs like JSA out of the motive of just wanting to join something that would look good on a resume. Obviously, as time went on, I understood that that's not how high school clubs work! So, I would say that the pivotal moment where I decided to take JSA seriously came when our chapter had our first formal debate. The topic really intrigued me, and I spent more than a month before culminating as much evidence as I could find. When I delivered my opening and closing speech, I felt empowered to achieve something as simple as speaking my own ideas and opinion. That moment- that debate- was what made me love JSA."
What is an issue you are passionate about, and how has JSA helped you be active in that area?
"I am very passionate about nonpartisanship and the deeper meaning that it holds. It's important that no matter where you are on the political spectrum, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, etc., you and everyone else can speak their own mind and own ideas. By engaging in nonpartisanship and allowing others to contribute to the conversation, you can establish strong relationships and build trust. Coming from a politically divided family, I strongly believe that everyone has something important to bring to the table."
What would you say is an opportunity that JSA provides for you as a High School student?
"JSA made me feel passionate about debating and engaging in civil discussion. It's allowed me to share my voice with the masses, although I may only be a high school student. This ability drives me to put my best effort into my speeches, questions, and comments. Every time I write a speech or engage in a thought talk, I research and make sure that I am well informed about the topic at hand. I can talk about a range of ideas from healthcare to taxes, even though I can't file my own taxes yet! However, the opportunity to speak about topics that might seem daunting or too difficult at first to the average high school student is what makes JSA really special."
How are you a representative of JSA in your local community and beyond?
"I would say that I am a JSA representative because I always go out of my way to bring people to debates and get them interested in debating. I used to be extremely shy and didn't think it was possible to break out of my shell and speak out about my own ideas. I've learned that breaking out of your shell and getting people to sense that same feeling of urgency that you do on a particular topic is what truly makes JSA spectacular! As I've said before, nonpartisanship is really important to me. If I am engaging in a political discussion with someone else, I think it is essential to hear their opinion of the topic. This is also something that I always preach about in JSA debates/thought talks, and I am a big advocate for having each person discuss their personal opinion and exactly why they believe in it."
Who is a person that inspires you to go beyond the barriers you have?
"A person that inspires me to go beyond the barriers I have is Malala Yousafzai. I first heard about her story in middle school, specifically about how she demanded that girls- more importantly, anyone they are- should be allowed to receive an education. She was later shot by a Taliban gunman but survived and received the Nobel Peace Prize for her powerful activism and work. She is very inspiring for all the young people out there.
Her work shows that anyone, no matter how small they think they may be, can make a huge difference in the world. I, too, think it's important for everyone to have access to education and become successful. Malala's story impacts every young person and encourages them to stand up for society's injustices."