By Lilli Hime
What does Generation Citizen do?
St. Edward’s Generation Citizen is the local chapter of the national organization whose mission is to ensure every student in the United States receives an effective civics education. The organization provides them with the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in our democracy as active citizens.
Members train to become “Democracy Coaches” before going into Austin middle and high schools and serving in semester-long mentorships where they engage the younger students in a civic, change making project. Through this partnership, the middle and high school students develop a basic understanding of government, both at the state and local levels, before identifying an issue in their community, researching its root causes, and creating and implementing an action plan to address the problem.
“Our organization is very centered around change,” advocacy chapter director Daniela Urda said, “and that you are the voice in your community and the younger you start the more likely you are to carry it out as you get older.”
What do you get out of participating in Generation Citizen?
If teaching is a form of learning, then it’s also a form of empowerment, for both the organization’s members and their middle or high school student partners.
“I see the effects in the fact that the students light up once they know that they can actually make a difference in their community,” executive director Reina Gonzales said about the rewarding part of the job.
In addition to the satisfaction of inspiring and motivating younger students by showing them their potential to work for social change, Generation Citizen’s members also create a community through the organization, and they create important connections between the university and Austin. The work the members do is deeply personal at times and, as Gonzales said, “lends to creating a really warm environment.” She calls the group a family.
What does Generation Citizen contribute to the St. Edward’s community?
Generation Citizen’s work educating and empowering young people puts St. Edward’s mission into action. The school’s mission to seek justice, confront the critical issues of society, and recognize each person’s right to education gets reflected by this organization’s efforts to create active and engaged citizens. As Gonzales puts it, “Our organization brings an opportunity to do something because everybody just sees that there’s a problem but not a lot of people know how to solve the problem. Generation Citizen gives the St. Edward’s community the opportunity to not just talk about change but actually lead it.”
How can students get involved?
Interested in getting involved with this organization? You can contact Reina Gonzales at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!