Student programs are a priority, not an option

TED Talks are supposed to make you feel a lot and after I saw Kate Simonds’ I’m 17, what I felt was a surge of belongingness. I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. Her experiences and ideas isn’t entirely different to what I had for the past few years and to what I sometimes feel right now.

Ask us about social security, ask us about environmental destruction, ask us about anything. Let us know that we matter because we do.

It’s true that not all of us will understand these policies right away. Just because we’re teenagers doesn’t mean that we don’t understand politics and similarly, just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean that you do.

As you can read from my previous posts, I’ve been mostly involved in Mozilla’s student programs. In my first few months, I don’t know where else to contribute and being the typical student I am back then I just went with the flow. But as I got more exposed to other contribution fields, I asked myself, why am I still here and not into other areas? I just had that feeling that I don’t want to go into other areas because I feel little compared to the older people there and I am JUST A STUDENT. I didn’t realize back then, that feeling of being belittled by older members because I am a student is a valid and I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

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When I tried getting out of my comfort zone early this year and decided to be involved in other areas, I found myself going back and helping in the transition of the student program. Why? One of my foremost motivations is because I wanted to help create a program that would prioritize the growth of the younger people in the community. I wanted to create a safe space for them to explore their options in this diverse community of Open Web and most importantly, I want them to have fun knowing that their skills and knowledge will grow.

What I know is this: students have a lot of spare time and are in the constant lookout for things to do. Also young people are idealistic by default, we all have that urge to go and be the change the world needs but we need to have an assurance that we will gain something on the process. With that given, we can turn this idealism into an opportunity, where it is a win win situation for both the individuals and the organization.

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If students would be given a program where they can see that opportunities will be given for them even after their graduation, where they are allowed to be unbounded from societal standards, where mentors are available and willing to guide them on the process (and even babysit for the on-boarding period), where adults take time to listen and are open for collaboration and most importantly where their own personal growth is on the top of the priority list, the possibilities will be infinite and organizations would highly benefit from this additional highly involved and creative workforce.

A system of collaboration between adults and students is of high importance. We need a structure where both parties have a sincere intention to work alongside each other, where every idea is respected, where seniority is not imposed and where each person on the team is held accountable for any progress to take place. This is why I haven’t left the student program even though I told myself that I would, because the Mozilla Campus Club Program still and always will be a work in progress. I want to continue making the students my champions, defending them from a system that would in any way lead them to believe in themselves less and from the judgement of some people that would hinder them to reach their full potential.

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If you are a student and you are reading this, I know how you feel, I’ve been in that situation and here is what I wanted to say for you: “Don’t stop looking for opportunities, be hungry for experiences, be proactive, ask questions, find mentors necessary for your growth and most importantly do not forget that you are doing things bigger than yourself.”

If you are out of the academe for quite sometime, I highly suggest that you remember how you felt when you were a student. Reminisce and be prepared for throwbacks.

If you have anything for me, be it a question or a reaction, don’t hesitate to write a comment below or send me an email to fatejane.cabag@gmail.com. I’m looking forward to hear from you!

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