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Q&A with Irene and Ashton, Student2Government Academy participants

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Ashton Bailey Sanchez, left, and Irene Rodriguez, right, participated in Precinct 2's first-ever Student2Government Teen Leadership Academy. The six-week program is designed to foster a culture of civic leadership and teach teens about public service and the electoral process. They are both rising seniors at Sam Houston Math Science and Technology Center High School.

1. What motivated you to participate in Student2Government with Precinct 2?

Ashton: My primary motivation for participating in the Student2Government Leadership Academy was the chance to engage directly with my local government. From learning about how voting machines work to observing Commissioners Court firsthand, this academy offered a comprehensive experience.

Irene: I am still exploring different career paths to find the right one for me. When I heard about the Student2Government Leadership Academy, I saw it as a great opportunity to gain experience and learn about local government and civics.

2. Describe the most interesting thing you learn during the Student2Government program?

Ashton: One of the most interesting things I discovered during mytime at the Student2Government Leadership Academy was the significantdisparities in voting turnout numbers among different age groups and minority communities. It was a truly eye-opening experience.

Irene: The most interesting thing I learned in the Student2Government Leadership Academy was during the Local Arts and Culture session. It amazes me how art can bring so many benefits to individuals and communities. Art can be defined in various ways, but ultimately, it is a form of expression that can unite people, regardless of their backgrounds. Learning about local art and culture has been fascinating.

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3. How did what you learned impact or connect to your career or life goals?

Ashton: The knowledge I gained during the Student2GovernmentLeadership Academy has had a profound impact on my career goals, igniting theidea of returning to my community and making improvements for futuregenerations.

Irene: The Local Arts and Culture session at Student2Government Leadership Academy impacted my life goals by motivating me to support others. By sharing positive art on social media, I can provide motivation and help people develop a positive mindset. It serves as a reminder that I am here to support others, even when it may not feel like it. Additionally, if someone needs someone to talk to, seeing one of the positive art pieces can prompt them to comment or start a conversation about their feelings and well-being.

4. How has this experience impacted your view on county government? 

Ashton: My experience as part of the Student2Government Leadership Academy has provided me with invaluable opportunities and broadened my perspective, revealing the numerous roles and possibilities within Harris County Precinct 2.

Irene: The Student2Government Leadership Academy has influenced my perspective on county government by showcasing the numerous resources available within our community and emphasizing the power of collaboration to achieve anything.

5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Ashton: In the next five years, I envision myself graduating fromYale University at the top of my class with a degree in political science.

Irene: In the next five years, I envision myself attending St. Thomas University in Houston, Texas, and pursuing a nursing degree. I see myself actively engaging with the community in my free time and exploring ways to support and empower young people.