As I prepare to leave Boca Raton for college at American University in Washington, D.C., I reflect on my community involvement in Boca Raton as a youth and a future I envision for it. As a student in my community, I’ve worked with youth-leaders and adults. All the while making best-friends and finding mentors along the way. Whether it was beach clean ups with clubs such as Boca Raton High School’s T.R.E.E. (Taking Responsibility for the Earth and Environment) Club, volunteering at the 2019 Boca Bash, hosting community town-halls or presenting projects to the City Council with fellow youth leaders, I’ve been proud to work towards a better future for my community.
Get involved in something
As I learned more about my community by being involved, it has been my observation that Boca Raton is growing and becoming more agile and innovative. Boca Raton Community High School and Spanish River Community High School have maintained stellar “A” grades in performance. Florida Atlantic University is not staying stagnant either, “FAU beat out the University of Florida and Florida State for the top spot in the Florida Board of Governors’ “performance-based funding grades” (Sun Sentinel). Through student-led efforts, I’ve become aware of places such as FAU’s Tech Runway and the Boca Raton Innovation Campus. Both are emerging powerhouses dedicated to cultivating new heights in innovation and start-up companies. Let us not forget IBM made the first personal computer in our own backyard here in Boca Raton. And now, a new legacy is in the making that involves our youth.
Take advantage of opportunities
From the city government perspective, inspired youth have begun to take action. Recently, I and some others presented a sustainability idea to the city. The idea involved building a turtle art sculpture at South Beach Park to serve as an environmental figurehead. The act of youth expressing their ideas, coupled with receptive community feedback is a spark for cultivating youth ownership for their city. City Council members now work outside of their meetings to mentor these young servant-leaders with their experience working in government. Much of this presence was accomplished by the formation of Boca Raton’s Youth Subcommittee. It’s a new subcommittee created by the city’s Community Advisory Panel. The intent is to provide youth with a platform to solve their most pressing issues. I think this youth platform has the power to inspire countless generations to work together to make their community better. Currently, the sub-committee is planning to tackle mental health in this upcoming school year.
I envision that as our local education grows, new platforms for innovation will arise and our youth will have a city voice. A voice that is unique and needed.
And what about the future?
Boca Raton will inevitably change. But how so? Our city is not the next Silicon Valley. Boca is Boca. If it can keep its positive attributes, I think there is a likelihood of youth moving back to stay in Boca. That is one of the utmost success indicators of a city’s future: Youthful energy with roots to the community returning to build their futures and the city’s too.
I think Boca Raton will only change for the better by catering to a changing generation entering college. I predict greater student involvement across our city/community if it does. And, I believe the City’s youth are not stagnant. It is a time to make our city a place for their future.