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Why You Should Apply to the Rising Leaders Initiative

Why You Should Apply to the Rising Leaders Initiative

February 13, 2024

The Rising Leaders Initiative is now accepting applications from charter high school students for the 2024-25 cohort.

My name is Maya Maliakal; I am a charter school student and a junior at Harmony Science Academy Carrollton. I have attended Harmony Public Schools since kindergarten, and through them, I have been exposed to many opportunities in leadership, which I am passionate about. I am committed to bringing positive change in my community by advocating for causes such as education equity, including funding and facilities for charter schools to provide their students with a fantastic education experience.

This year, I was delighted to have the honor of participating in the Rising Leaders Initiative, which has provided me with experiences and skills that I will never forget and continue to use in my journey in advocacy. The Rising Leaders Initiative is a year-long advocacy training program for charter high school students. This program aims to inspire and prepare the next generation of young leaders to shape education policies in their communities by teaching and refining skills for engaging in advocacy. This program had its inaugural class in 2021, and I am a part of its second cohort of charter school students passionate about advocating for access to high-quality education in our communities.

A lesson that I learned from this program and greatly valued was how to communicate with others to best advocate for causes like education. During these trainings, individuals and organizations specialized in communicating through media helped me learn the importance of using my voice and how to do that on online platforms. This included how to communicate with people who share the same ideas as me, have opposing viewpoints, or are new to the topic I am trying to advocate for. 

One of the goals that I have had for this experience has been to work with the other Rising Leaders, an inspiring group of students, to create an advocacy guide. This guide aims to empower fellow high school students, parents, and community members to proactively advocate for charter schools by dispelling misinformation and staying informed as well as provide guidance in advocating for other causes they are passionate about. 

As we continue to develop this guide and participate in the Rising Leaders program, I am amazed at how it has impacted my life and helped me be a better advocate for the causes I believe in. Moreover, this program has opened many doors for me, such as introducing me to the Texas Association of Public Charter Schools, where my school sent me to attend their annual conference, allowing me to learn from individuals who shared their experiences in education advocacy with me.

I encourage students passionate about making a positive change in their community and want to learn more about advocacy to apply to the Rising Leaders 2024-2025 cohort today!

Maya Maliakal is a member of the Class of 2023-24 Rising Leaders Initiative at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and a junior at Harmony Science Academy Carrolton in Texas. 

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