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So far Angela Castilleja has created 107 blog entries.

Advice for District Conference

I don’t know about y’all, but the last few months flew by way too quickly! Can you believe it is already time for Districts to host their conferences? As soon as this Saturday, delegates will be gathering in one of our five Districts and show off the skills they have been working on. Houston will have their conference on November 9th, and Midland, Fort Worth, Austin, and Dallas will all have their conference on November 16th.

Are you nervous? Excited and ready to engage in thoughtful debate or publish your story? Maybe a little bit of both? Well lucky for you, the YG officers compiled a list of advice and tips for the delegates. We hope you find the information below helpful and useful. The State Office is cheering you on and we know everyone is going to do fantastic. Take a look at what your officers have to say, have fun at your District Conference, and we will see you in a couple of months!

“Hello delegates! I applaud you all for taking this first step to join the YG community at the District Conference. As a previous competitor in the judicial section during these conferences, I have been in your shoes. I remember gathering the courage to step forward into a world I almost knew nothing about, but would come to love, at my first conference. Here are a few tips that helped me in the past and I hope you find them just as useful. First, always be on time to your rooms, punctuality is critical during this hectic time. Don’t psych yourself out! Take deep breaths before you speak and be confident. Be sure to present yourself in a professional manner. Be sure to have fun, do not stress out about something so much it prevents you from enjoying the conference. Finally, and most importantly, appreciate this wonderful program for everything that it is and do not take anything for granted!” — Attorney General London Jones ’21

“Do your best and never give up because you never know what will happen. Also, only focus on what you are doing and do not worry about what everyone else is doing.” — Broadcast Producer Amy Ekechukwu ’20

“Talk to EVERYONE! District is the time to make friends and meet as many people as you can.” — State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20

“The first tip that I have for first year delegates is to definitely study parliamentary procedure. It is important to be familiar with it in order for debate to run as smoothly as possible. Secondly, don’t be afraid to stand up and speak! You’re first conference is meant to be a learning experience, but it can also be an amazing experience if you take full advantage of it!” — Youth Governor Tadiwa Mujokoto ’20 

“Remember, the people in the room are not against you. Everyone at the conference is working to help each other become better debaters. Speak with your Chair before the room starts. Getting to know your Chair can make the room feel more welcoming and relaxed. Also, try to have fun! While the conference is meant to be a learning experience, remember to still enjoy the debate and make friends throughout the day.” — Lieutenant Governor Alexander Searles ’20

“Make mistakes! When I switched from Legislative to Judicial, it felt as if it were my first year in YG all over again. When I look back on that year, I learned how to become a more effective attorney from the times I messed up my presentation or forgot a procedure in court. We have to embrace our mistakes and be willing to have them corrected by an advisor and our peers. District Conference is the best opportunity to get your feet wet and learn how to become more successful in YG.

Engage with others! I always tell my peers that YG is 10% competing and 90% meeting new people. There’s nothing inherently wrong with going into the District Conference with a competitive fire, but the conference is much better when you make new friendships and build connections with your fellow delegates. YG is one of the few programs where you truly have the opportunity to meet and interact with a diverse community of athletes, musicians, debaters, artists, and engage with people who believe in the power of being an active citizen.

Also, keep in mind that the older and more experienced delegates are not scary! It can be really intimidating being in the same room as the senior who has been in the program all four years of high school or the attorney team that has consistently made it to NJC. However, these more experienced delegates will be your greatest sources of wisdom and can become some of your best friends if you are willing to approach them. We all know the nerves and sweaty palms that come when you go up tot speak for the first time, and we are all here to help and support you.” — Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20

2019-11-07T18:02:07-06:00November 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Meet Our JYG Officers: Part 2

Halloween is nearly upon us! Are you ready to be spooked by a friendly ghost? Or go out and knock on your neighbor’s door and beg for candy? Or maybe you have plans to attend a fall festival and bob for some apples and go on a hayride? Well before any festivities can begin, it is time to be introduced to our next JYG officer, State Affairs Form Chair Raphael Caballes ’24. Read below to learn a little bit about our young delegate and to see a fun fact about him!

State Affairs Chair Raphael Caballes ’24

How long have you participated in YG? Two years so far.

What is your favorite thing about participating in YG? I love getting to meet new delegates from other schools and getting to see friends from previous years.

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite YG memory is hanging out with some of my friends at the last State Conference in 2019 and just enjoying our time in Austin.

What are you most excited to do in your elected position this year? I am excited to be able to chair and help out new delegates in the State Affairs Form section.

What message would you like to give to first year students in YG? I would like to tell all the new students in YG to not be scared, and to know that all of your thoughts and ideas matter.

Favorite thing about Halloween?  I really like the amount of horror movies and shows that come our during this time.

2019-10-29T10:18:28-06:00October 30th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Meet Our JYG Officers: Part 1

Happy fall! Here at the State Office, the temperature has dropped and the air now has a chilly touch of fall to the air. Pumpkins at local stores are out in full force and we have learned that blue and pink pumpkins are a thing and are a specialty produce in the squash and gourd family. Neighborhoods are decked out in fun and spooky Halloween decorations.

However, we’re sure our delegates are also focused on what happens after Halloween. District Conference is a mere few weeks away and things in YG are starting to ramp up. In preparation for District Conference, it’s time to now introduce your Junior Youth and Government (JYG) officers. See below for an introduction to the Texas JYG Governor, Diya Hedge ’24.

Texas Junior Youth Governor Diya Hedge ’24

How long have you participated in YG? This will be my third year in the Youth and Government Program!

What is your favorite thing about participating in YG? My favorite thing about participating in this program is meeting new people from all over Texas! It really allows you to expand and connect with others with different backgrounds. I really love how warm and welcoming the YG community is. YG definitely builds very strong friendships across delegations, which is an important part of the program!

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG was my first State Conference in Austin. I remember being elated to the point of giddiness! It was my first time being away from my family for more than one night. I enjoyed debating other delegates and watching my friends’ bills get passed in committee. The experience overall at the State Conference was incredible! It was amazing to debate like real legislators.

What are you most excited to do in your elected position this year? I am most excited to work with delegates across the entire state! I hope to spread democracy throughout the state and sign bills into action that I think will improve our society. I am very excited to meet more delegates and connect with new people!

What message would you like to give to first year students in YG? A major piece of advice I can give to first year students is to never give up! Always make sure you give your 100%, at all times! Regardless of whether you win or lose, it is always important to keep trying and not give up. As future leaders, it is important to be driven about your passions.

Now for the most important question, what is your favorite Halloween candy? Sour Patch Kids!

2019-10-25T16:40:32-06:00October 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Law: A Profession of Service

Have you ever considered a career as an attorney? Have you ever wondered what types of career paths you can follow as an attorney? Are you looking for inspiration to join the legal profession? Look no further! Our partners at Austin Bar Association and Austin Young Lawyer’s Association’s Leadership Academy put together a documentary last fall, exploring the different ways you can become part of the legal field and have provided us with some insight from one of their chairs, Meghan Kempf. We greatly appreciate the work our partners do on behalf of Texas YG, and wanted to re-share this resource as students and advisors prepare for upcoming District Conferences next month!

This year a group of 25 attorneys were selected to participate in the Austin Bar Association and Austin Young Lawyer’s Association’s Leadership Academy. As part of their group project they created a short film documentary titled Law: A Profession of Service with the goal to inspire future leaders with an interest in pursuing careers as attorneys. The judges and attorneys in the film include:  Honorable Robert Pitman, Honorable Wallace Jefferson, Honorable Laura Livingston, Dr. Sarah Weddington, Senator Kirk Watson, Berry Crowley, Frank King, and Dirk Jordan.  Each of these leaders have had a significant impact on different local, national, and international communities through their legal work.

One of the 2018 Leadership Academy’s chairs and former 2016 participant in the program is Meghan Kempf. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008 and St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2012. We asked her a few questions on what inspired her to serve with her law degree and continue to serve in her career. She was the 2018 recipient of the Austin Young Lawyer’s Outstanding Young Lawyer’s award and is currently Staff Counsel at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

What type of work do you do with HHSC?  

“I work on the policy team in the Office of the Chief Counsel for HHSC, advise the HHSC staff on the meaning of relevant laws and assist in interpreting legislation for public assistance programs. I primarily work in the areas of women’s health, family violence services, and Medicaid service delivery for children in state conservatorship.”

What was your first job out of law school?

“My first job after graduation was an Equal Justice Works Fellow for Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc. in San Antonio. They fund legal aid projects nationwide to serve unmet needs in local communities. My fellowship focused on providing advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and education resources to community partners, including law enforcement and direct service providers.”

As an attorney, why do you think it is important to serve?

“Attorneys have a unique ability to help people understand and utilize the laws that their representatives have created to govern their lives. To enable people to reach their full potential and dignity is a true privilege and helps our communities to progress to include everyone.”

Do you think that youth involved in the YMCA YG programs can start serving while pursuing a career in politics or as an attorney?

“Absolutely, serving in a representative capacity is the very definition of serving others. The focus on service helps us to remember the true purpose of representation and community discourse, and the value of brining multiple viewpoints to the table.”

 Watching the video, Law: A Profession of Service, what inspiration do you take from it and what do you think the students can take from it?

“Watching the video reminds me of all the different ways a person can be inspired to join the legal profession. There are so many diverse ways to serve and needs to be met in the community. For the students, find something that is your passion and there will be many opportunities to serve and pursue a meaningful career.”

On behalf of the 2018 Leadership Academy Class, I invite you to watch our film, Law: A Profession of Service, to see if you draw inspiration to serve others and see the impact you can have in your pursuit of a career in the legal profession.

We are proud that the YMCA Youth and Government programs are going to share these words of wisdom with the incredible children in their programs and hope to see them develop into leaders with a passion for service to others as they follow their dreams.

2019-10-21T14:08:38-06:00October 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Winner of the first Amazon gift card drawing!

Congratulations to Kaden Gould, the first winner in our drawing for an Amazon gift card!

Kaden won a $20 gift card from Amazon for completing our pre-program survey. It is important for students to complete the survey because it helps the State Office continue to improve the program. Every student that completed the survey between the beginning of registration through October 14th was entered for a chance to win.

Still haven’t completed the pre-program survey? Would you like a $20 Amazon gift card? Lucky for you, students have one more chance to win a gift card. If you completed the survey between October 15th through November 8th, you will be entered into a second drawing. We will draw a name on Monday November 11th and inform you who the lucky winner is.

So ready to win a gift card? Go here to complete our survey. And a HUGE thank you to all the students who have completed the survey so far. We are excited to have received over 500 responses so far, your input is vital to our program development.

2019-10-21T14:07:51-06:00October 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Questions in Regards to the Judicial Case

Have a question about this year’s Judicial case? Don’t fear, the State Office is here to answer all of them!

Please submit all questions that you have about the case by October 21st. At that time, the State Office will review and post the answers under the Judicial section of our website. Some questions have already been submitted, you can review them here or in the Judicial section. Please email any additional questions to Breanna Tuck at [email protected] We can’t wait to hear about how everyone handles the case next month at District!

2019-10-21T14:05:30-06:00October 21st, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The YG Officers on the U.S. Constitution: Part 4

Today is the last day of our Constitution Day Fundraiser and this is your last chance to go here to donate. We also want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read about our fundraiser and to donate. To wrap things up, we have two more officer profiles we would like to share with you. See below to learn about Texas Youth Governor Tadiwa Mujokoto ’20 and Secretary of State Divyam Bansal ’20.

Texas Youth Governor Tadiwa Mujokoto ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 6 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? This is my last year in YG. As bittersweet as it is, I am extremely excited about this YG season. I have become quite close with the other officers, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish to improve the program. Also, I have only participated in legislative, so I am eager to see the bills that are presented in the committees and on the floor. Most importantly, I cannot wait to see old friends and meet new people because most of my YG friends end up becoming my best friends.

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite YG memory was from the 2019 Conference on National Affairs. It was amazing to be able to meet and debate with such smart, passionate youth from across the country. The most memorable moments of the trip was at the end of each night during our roundtable meetings. I cherish these moments because of the time that I spent with the Texas delegates. It was during these moments where we truly bonded with one another.

How has YG impacted you? Joining YG was definitely the best decision that I have made this far in my life. During my time in YG, I have found my love for crafting and debating legislation. This program has given me the blessing of witnessing people grow and develop a passion for civic engagement. For some, it may be through modeling legislature, mock trial, or the various aspects of media. The beauty of this is that everyone has a place. The possibilities for involvement have no bounds.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution is one of the most important documents to be written. It is the framework of our government and protects our individual rights. I have made it my goal to empower the youth of our generation to realize that we do not have to wait for the future to get involved and make a difference. That is why it means so much. This living document has provided us with the means to take ownership and have a say in the things that affect ourselves and countless others.

Secretary of State Divyam Bansal ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 3 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am most excited to work with my fellow officers and candidates. Also, I am looking forward to meeting new first-year members and creating amazing memories for them and myself along the way.

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite YG memory is probably campaigning for Youth Governor with my delegation. The energy among all of my delegation was unreal and the way we all worked together to try to reach a common goal was something that I will always remember.

How has YG impacted you? YG has given me the confidence to speak in front of others and talk with new people. In school, I am often working with partners or using notecards for presentations. Through YG, I have learned to present my true feelings on my own and learned to share my voice effectively. The newfound confidence that YG has given me will always stick with me.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? To me, the U.S. Constitution is a symbol of freedom and fundamental human rights. It is important because it is the sole document that ensures our government governs in a fair manner and it plays a key role in holding our nation together. Additionally, the U.S. Constitution is what preserves and affirms the greatness of our amazing country. The United States was built on the foundation that every human is entitled to certain unalienable rights, and our U.S. Constitution upholds that foundation and provides every American the sense of freedom and enrichment that makes America the greatest country in the world.

2019-10-03T15:53:34-06:00October 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The YG Officers on the U.S. Constitution: Part 3

Happy Friday! Hopefully everyone enjoyed their week and are excited about the weekend ahead! We have extended our Constitution Day Fundraiser until October 4th, and you can learn about the fundraiser and donate here. See below for an introduction to our Photojournalism Editor Riley Wheaton ’20 and Lieutenant Governor Alexander Searles ’20.

Photojournalism Editor Riley Wheaton ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 2 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to help media become more integrated with the YG community and environment!

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory occurred last year when I helped my peers pioneer Photojournalism as a new event at last year’s State Conference.

How has YG impacted you? YG has helped me network and find individuals across the state with similar passions to my own. YG will always hold a special place in my heart as I continue to learn more about our government, culture, and media and grow more as an individual.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? As a media officer, the U.S. Constitution is especially important to me because it protects the freedom of the press in the Bill of Rights under the First Amendment. The amendment allows people to speak their minds and report information without suppression and share their ideas freely.

Lieutenant Governor Alexander Searles ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 7 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am most excited to be finishing off my YG career with chairing the Senate.

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is the experience I had at the campfire ceremony at the 2019 CONA.

How has YG impacted you? YG has impacted me by giving me a more diverse view on politics, as well as drastically improving my public speaking skills. The thing that will stick with me the most is the knowledge that every person has a different political view, and that those views should not be used to judge or discriminate against the person.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution means to me that the American people will never need to be in fear of their rights being taken away, and that everyone has certain unalienable rights that should be protected at all costs. The document is important because it represents the struggle of the American people to strive toward that goal of true equality of all people, and to be the world’s fighting force for peace and democracy.

2019-09-27T09:44:10-06:00September 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Happy National Voter Registration Day!

National Voter Registration Day is celebrated on the 4th Tuesday of September, which falls on September 24 this year! In addition to National Voter Registration Day, the week of September 23-27 is High School Voter Registration Week. Texas YG teaches students about civic engagement, which includes voting. Therefore, we want to remind our high school students that if they are currently 17 years and 10 months old and will be 18 by Election Day, then they can register to vote today!

You may think that it isn’t that important to vote this year. The next presidential election isn’t until 2020 and there are no legislative races. However, it is important to vote every year, especially in elections focused on state or local issues. The decisions that your city council or the state government make will have more of a direct impact on you than policies passed at the federal level. This year’s ballot will include 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. The League of Women Voters in Texas list out and explain the proposed amendments and list out pros and cons on each issue.

The League of Women Voters in Texas also offers great information about elections in general and will help you create a personalized voting guide and find your polling place! You can find that resource here. In addition, be sure to visit the National Voter Registration Day website when you are ready to register. The website will help start the process.

And just a reminder, we are still in the middle of our Constitution Day Fundraise and have actually extended the fundraiser to October 4th. The U.S. Constitution protects our right to vote and allows us to participate in our country’s democratic system. In addition to registering to vote, be sure to celebrate National Voter Registration Day by donating to our fundraiser!

2019-09-24T15:00:48-06:00September 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The YG Officers on the U.S. Constiution: Part 2

As we said in the beginning of the week, we talked to our officers and asked them about what the U.S. Constitution means to them. We received some thoughtful and incredible responses and we will continue to share them with you throughout our Constitution Day Fundraiser. Read about our Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20 and our State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20. And be sure to check out our donate page here to see how you contribute to our program!

Chief Justice Sebastiane Caballes ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 5 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to make new memories.

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is when I was campaigning for Chief Justice. I had so much support from the friends I have in the program and was able to meet so many new delegates throughout the process. It is something that I will always look back on fondly.

How has YG impacted you? YG has pushed me to understand and apply different methods of leadership. The program has so many different facets from being an attorney, a legislator, to leading a club. What sticks to me the most from YG is the people that I have met. Their unique stories and views open my eyes to new perspectives.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? To me, the U.S. Constitution represents the essence of American values. We are unlike any other nation in that we are not a country founded by a single ethnic or cultural group. The U.S. Constitution does not discriminate based on the color of your skin or the religion you practice, it protects all Americans equally under the law. It is this idea of equality under the law that resonates with me the most. Our nation was built upon the idea that discourse would not divide America, it would unite us. Just because not all Americans share the same political views or beliefs does not mean that one group is right and the other is wrong. Rather, it is this diversity in ideas and people that strengthen and makes America great. The U.S. Constitution stands as a stalwart against authoritarian regimes across the world and represents the freedom and liberty that we hold dear in the United States.

State Affairs Form Chair Nikash Harapanahalli ’20

How long have you been participating in YG? 6 years.

What are you most excited about for the 2019-2020 year? I am excited to be able to make change at the state level!

What is your favorite YG memory? My favorite memory in YG is when I face-planted as I ran to get my proponent slip in for a bill in Joint Session at the State Conference.

How has YG impacted you? YG is without a doubt a foundation of my modern sense of what civic and national duty are. YG’s emphasis on collaboration, servant leadership, and democratic participation have redefined what being a patriot is to me. Furthermore, the communication skills that I picked up have reinforced notions that through open dialogue, our mutual understanding of global citizenship can be rejuvenated and extended.

What does the U.S. Constitution mean to you? The U.S. Constitution is by no means perfect, but it has provided all people yearning for equity, freedom, and democracy a functional template from which to forge a new form of state. The U.S. Constitution reimagined statecraft and has set the foundation for the current notions of liberal democracy. It has laid precedent that synthesizes humanity with governance by affording equity to everyone born on American soil. That combination is at the heart of the U.S. Constitution – applying our empathy to all human beings through a compassionate state. This does not mean that the U.S. Constitution calls for the imparting of morals, beliefs, or religious ideals onto a population but rather that Americans are called to see the world through a compassionate lens. The U.S. Constitution’s emphasis on inalienable fraternity between all is something I will always carry with me because it inspires a social consciousness that only seeks to improve the world around it.

2019-09-19T15:10:09-06:00September 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments