At State Conferences last January and February, YMCA Texas Youth and Government students elected a new slate of officers to serve them during the 2018-2019 program year.  We’ll be featuring an interview with each officer on our blog in upcoming weeks.  First up: Youth Governor Aayush Dave!

What are some key issues you would like to highlight during your term as Governor?

Concerning the Youth and Government program, there are a number of additions and reforms I would like to implement in collaboration with the State Office and my District Director during my term. Based on the sentiment expressed by delegates from this year’s State Conference, I, along with the other state officers, would like to collaborate with our advisors and the State Director to optimize aspects of the legislative and judicial section areas, capitalizing on the tremendous growth in participation Texas YG has experienced in recent years. Furthermore, as a Governor who campaigned on a Grassroots platform, I would like to create district leadership opportunities to cultivate local interest in the Youth and Government program.

With the help of the 72nd Youth Legislature, I would like to enact a concrete agenda focused on a few key issues. First, I will sign bills that increase public school funding for purchasing new educational materials, hiring skilled teachers to teach advanced classes, and incentivizing graduation to decrease Texas’ abysmal high school drop-out rate. Increased funding would specifically allow low-income areas to invest in improved education, helping their students to be competitive in the workplace or the college application process. I would also like to sign a bill increasing the state tax on the operation of coal power plants to discourage their continued usage.  Coal plants are responsible for the most pollution in Texas and pollution of the Guadalupe and Big Bend National Parks. Finally, I would like to sign a bill dedicating funds to start a statewide campaign against human trafficking, promoting awareness among youth, and to increase the reach of the state Human Trafficking Task Force to decrease human trafficking cases in future years.

What most excites you about the platform you ran on at the State Conference?

I am excited by the fact that the delegates chose a candidate that ran on a Grassroots agenda designed to improve the program at the district level…I don’t believe that my fellow delegates elected me because of my experience in Youth and Government. Nor do I believe they elected me because of the awards I have won through the program (2 years in the program and no awards won). I was elected because of the comprehensive platform I proposed to improve the YG program: create a district leadership opportunity, invite college representatives to the State Conference, and improve the speed and functionality of the judicial and legislative sections. My hope is that I can inspire others to run for state office who aren’t necessarily the most decorated Youth and Government participants but who can demonstrate that they would have a positive impact on the program.

How long have you been with YG? What is your favorite moment in YG?

I have been a part of Youth and Government since the beginning of my tenth-grade year (2016-17 school year). That was the year I, along with four other friends, founded the YG program at my high school. Since then, we have grown and gained support as a program that promotes youth civic involvement in the community. My favorite memory is from the first fundraiser our club held to decrease the cost of the State Conference for our members. To provide background, three students dropped out of the club in its first year before the State Conference because of cost. Therefore, we resolved to solve that problem this year, partnering with our local Pearland Chamber of Commerce to hold a community fundraiser attended by community leaders, business professionals, and school officials. Through this effort, we raised $4,200 in donations and were able to send 22 delegates to the State Conference. We thank the Pearland Chamber of Commerce for their generosity in helping us achieve our goal and for hosting an incredible event for our members! Our Congressional Representative Pete Olson and State Representative Ed Thompson also attended the event—Mr. Thompson has been great help in promoting our organization throughout the community and we sincerely thank him for his help as well! I had the privilege of giving a speech at this event, and it was a truly surreal moment due to the people in attendance as well as the importance of the event in our club history. In that moment, I could not contain my pride in our YG club and all that we had accomplished up to that point.

Advice for other delegates?

Find your passion. Have a vision. It is important to identify what makes you get up in the morning and get to work. Without that spark, it is impossible to reach the pinnacle of whatever activity/sport/competition/career you invest your time in. It does not have to be Youth and Government, politics, or even government-related. You simply need to find that one thing that you love to do and want to be the best at. Building the Dawson HS Youth and Government club was my passion, and it has led me to the office of Youth Governor. But along with that passion, I had a vision to grow the club in size and skill. My vision to grow the Dawson HS YG club was simple, but through that simple plan, many other opportunities have presented themselves, such as speaking, fundraising, and leadership opportunities. As a result, I firmly believe that if you work hard at your vision, your vision will eventually work for you.

What keeps you busy outside of YG?

I am a member of the DECA business competition club, Future Problem Solvers competition club, Interact volunteer organization, UIL Academics, National Spanish Honor Society, and I am the incoming President of the National Honor Society. I have also been a member of the varsity tennis team for the past two years and a member of the Congressional Youth Advisory Council.