Do you remember what you were doing when you were 16? Some students in Sugar Land were empowered to become active members in their community by joining the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC).
MYAC is a 12-week program open to high school juniors that teaches students the ins and outs of local government by giving them hands-on experience. The program’s goal is to empower youth to become active community members by providing opportunities to engage in local government and public service. As part of MYAC, students meet city staff from various departments as well as their local elected officials, work with other Sugar Land students and commit to making a lasting impact on the city’s future.
We checked back in with some recent MYAC graduates to see the impact they’ve continued to make in their community.
Abel John – Class of 2020
Abel John, MYAC’s 2020 class president, wrote two articles for the New York Times about cat predation and its effect on bird populations. Additionally, Abel wrote another article for the Houston Audubon blog encouraging homeowners to set up, maintain and watch their bird feeders.
Read some of his articles:
Cameron Krouch – Class of 2020
Cameron has been busy both on stage and in his community. He led the Houston Food Bank Student program through a pandemic, graduated from George Ranch High School as the valedictorian, was accepted to Stanford University, got a perfect score at the Texas State Thespian Festival in the Duet Acting event, got first place in the Texas Technology Student Association Geospatial Technology Event, and performed in two musicals, “Elf the Musical Jr.” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Mehaa Amirthalingam – Class of 2021
Mehaa worked with the Snapchat original series “First Person” which tells stories of young innovators creating positive change as they fight to protect the planet. (Watch the episode here.) Her environmental focus doesn’t stop there though: Mehaa has also been researching hydroponic agriculture. While she’s working towards building a website to bring awareness of hydroponics—a way of growing plants without soil–to high school students and the community at large, in the meantime she’s installed a complete hydroponic system with 12 plants and cascaded irrigation in her backyard. Outside of her environmental work, she attended the invitation-only Governor’s Champions Academy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas where she conducted research in hardware hacking.
Akshara Viruthagiri – Class of 2021
After graduating from MYAC, Akshara has continued her work with Sending Eyeglasses Everywhere (S.E.E), an organization she co-created. The mission of S.E.E. is to collect eyeglasses from people around Sugar Land and redistribute them to those in need. S.E.E has donated over 1200 glasses in 11 months. “MYAC has motivated me to continue with this organization to help others see a brighter future,” said Akshara.
Norah Rami – Class of 2021
Norah was one of ten winners selected for the New York Times Student Editorial Essay Contest for her editorial, “Teach Us What We Need,” which addresses the need for comprehensive sex-ed in public skills. You can read her essay, which was chosen out of over 11,000 submissions.
Grace Dehner – Class of 2021
Grace earned the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor for a Girl Scout. For her project, which ran for over two years, she designed, implemented, and ran her own Model United Nations conference called Women’s Outreach through Model United Nations, a conference dealing with the under representation of women’s issues around the world. People from multiple states outside of Texas and countries as far away as Spain and Mexico. In keeping with MYAC’s goal of empowering youth to become active members of their community, she worked over a hundred hours at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Sugar Land and qualified for the bronze level of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. “I loved being able to give back to yet another Sugar Land institution,” she said.
Abhinav Vadassery – Class of 2020
Abhinav has continued work with his nonprofit, StudentsWeCare, which has the mission of empowering teens and students to overcome stress and anxiety through pursuing their passions. Since graduating, StudentsWeCare launched a new website www.studentswecare.com and has continued to provide education, services and support to those who are struggling with mental health issues. When speaking about MYAC, Abhinav thanked “MYAC for all the great opportunities as well as giving us students a great exposure to the [community’s] activities and needs.”
For a full list of qualification requirements and information on how to apply, visit: www.sugarlandtx.gov/173/Mayors-Youth-Advisory-Council.