Soua is a first-year student majoring in youth studies through CEHD. Get to know this St. Paul native and the work she is doing both at the university and for people around the country as she serves on the National Youth Leadership Council’s Youth Advisory Council.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Minnesota?
I chose the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities because they are the only college, out of the many that I have searched for, that has the specific youth studies program. Also, the Twin Cities has such a huge network of non-profit organizations and people. It’s close to home, but when I’m here, home is a world away. It’s a good balance.
What would you like to do with your Youth Studies major and Leadership minor? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I want to work with non-profit organizations that focus on youth leadership and youth voice. I want to empower youth to make a difference in their communities. I am also thinking about going to graduate school for Education Policies, so in my youth work there may be that aspect of educational equity. In ten years, I see myself working at a non-profit organization and working with youth.
Congratulations on being selected to represent National Youth Leadership Council as a Youth Advisory Council member. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got involved with NYLC?
In summer of 2013, I attended the National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) in San Francisco, California, hosted by the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) which is based in St. Paul, MN. NYLT opened my eyes to the problems that our country is currently facing, such as the achievement gap, racism, and social injustice. After NYLT, I was accepted to serve on their Youth Advisory Council (YAC). I served on the NYLC YAC for a one-year term during my senior year of high school and re-applied to serve another term this year. I am happy to say that I will be serving on the NYLC YAC for the next two years, as I also enter my first years of college.
What kinds of things do you do as a Youth Advisory Council member?
As a Youth Advisory Council member, I plan and facilitate workshops focusing on the achievement gap, service-learning, racism, and leadership, in local and national conferences such as the Overcoming Racism Conference and the Empowering Youth Conference. I also have the opportunities to go speak to groups, such as Carleton College about youth activism and organizing. I get to represent NYLC at events like We Day MN. NYLC also hosts a conference every year called the National Service-Learning Conference. Last year, I planned an on-site service project, spoke as a youth emcee, performed on the plenary stage and facilitated a workshop at the conference. This year, as a YAC member, we are also working towards launching a National Campaign.
Are you involved in any organizations on campus?
Yes! I am a part of the University YMCA as a mentor for their Y Mentors: Literacy Matters Program and their Y Collegiate Achievers Program (Y CAP). I am also involved in Students Today Leaders Forever (STLF) on and off-campus.
What’s your favorite thing about going to school at the U?
I think my favorite thing about going to the U is having so many opportunities to explore and experience new things. There is also such a huge network and support system here, I love it!
What tips do you have for students looking to make the most of their campus experience?
Because there are so many things to do here, prioritize. It can get overwhelming when you want to do everything. Also, explore and try new things. Get involved and get to know people. College is a time to explore. Make the best out of it.
What do you like to do when you have free time?
What’s free time? Haha, just kidding. I’m so busy that I barely have free time, but when I do, I like to jam out, go explore parts of campus and Minneapolis that I haven’t been to before, or just relax and have some time for myself.