Representing student opinions across the state, senior Sarah Pak is the secretary and treasurer of the California Association of Student Councils (CASC), a student-led organization that advocates for youth engagement in state legislation. In this issue of The Howler, Pak shares her growth, experiences and activism through the organization.
Alice Chen: What is CASC?
Sarah Pak: CASC stands for California Association of Student Councils. We are supported by the Board of Education in California. As State Council, we travel around the state and train ASBs, different interested leaders and organizations and host conferences on leadership. We also work with the legislators and senators of California to pass bills. We recently passed two bills, including a bill that upgraded student vote to preferential vote. Although students’ votes still do not count, it is recorded in history, so others can know about it in the future.
AC: What do you do as secretary and treasurer for CASC?
SP: I train regional or ASB secretaries throughout the state. I also handle money, organization and logistics for meetings and organization. So, every month, I fly up to our office in Oakland to handle paperwork and bills and make sure everything is on track.
AC: How were you first introduced to CASC and why did you join it?
SP: After a CASC alumni told me to join the program, I went to CASC’s program SABE (Student Advisory Board of Education), where I was able to present a proposal to the Board of Education. I never thought I had the power to do that as a high schooler, but through the experience, I realized that students are the primary stakeholders of the education system and therefore should have a say in improving it. Thus, I continued in CASC and eventually tried out for a leadership position. I wanted to continue making a difference and inspiring other students to do so as well.
AC: What is your favorite part about CASC?
SP: My favorite part is definitely the people because my state council members are my second family. Working with each other and overcoming challenges together has bonded us together so much. Whenever I go through difficulties, I always call state council members first to let them know. Also, I am very inspired by the people who attend the conferences and are so enthusiastic about leadership. They remind me of who I was and how I was able to grow through CASC. Seeing the people make everything worth it.
AC: How has CASC enriched your education at Northwood?
SP: Through CASC, I can see a lot of connections between classes and the real world, especially in classes like AP Government, because I have first-hand knowledge on the topics. In AP Government, we learned about the difficulty of a bill becoming a law and conference committees, which I have experienced often because of CASC.
AC: How can Northwood students get involved with CASC?
SP: Anyone can be apart of CASC. Students can visit our website www.casc.net for information on how they can get involved. I recommend our in-year conferences like YASC, SABE and SABLE. Each conference is unique and gears towards different interests.
AC: What is your dream and how does CASC help you achieve it?
SP: My dream is to work in the United Nations as a policy maker. Even though the UN isn’t as political as CASC, CASC has taught me about leadership, policy-making, networking, diplomacy and how I can improve myself to help others.