Women’s Future Is Bright as These Girls’ Smiles!
Published: January 27, 2020
Amid business and leadership tasks, the 2018-19 class of Junior Commissioners had some serious FUN!
The future of women’s rights does indeed look bright in the competent, committed, collaborative hands of Sonoma County’s 2018-19 Junior Commissioners on the Status of Women.
At their graduation ceremony in May, the Juniors summarized results of their ad hoc committees and civic projects, focusing on their chosen topics: Human Trafficking, Healthy Mind & Body, Relationship Violence, and Empowering Women. In every case, the girls’ impressive efforts were presented with the poise, passion, and pride of inspiring leaders.
“I’ve felt privileged to observe the discussions of these young women who will soon be leaders in our community and beyond,” said Fifth District Commissioner Ariana Diaz de Leon, who co-chairs the Junior Commissioner program with Fourth District Commissioner Leticia Padilla. “Each Junior brought a different perspective and thoughtful addition to the conversations.”
About the Junior Commission Program
Every spring since 1993 the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) has accepted applications from Sonoma County teens wishing to become Junior Commissioners for an academic year. CSW’s goal is to help local youth develop leadership skills, practice teamwork, and meet inspiring female mentors. Juniors meet monthly to engage in timely roundtable discussions about advocacy, equity, and policy issues related to women and girls. They gain an understanding about county government, interact with the adult Commissioners, and participate on ad hoc committees that require community service projects to support their topics of choice.
“We’re there for support, but the Juniors create and execute their projects independent from adults,” said Commissioner Padilla. “I think they enjoy that challenge and being able to clearly see the lasting positive impact their efforts can have on the community.”
Sonoma County’s Junior Commission is not gender specific, but this year’s 17 participants were all high school girls.
“Working on the ad hoc projects has challenged me to think outside the box—to lead and envision projects that will meaningfully teach and empower women around me,” said Grace Alchemy, 18, a three-time Junior Commissioner and new Santa Rosa High School grad.
Meeting and Being ‘Rosies’ for a Day
This year, serving as vice-chair of the Junior Commission, Grace organized a springtime field trip to the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond.
The visiting Juniors were excited to learn about Richmond’s shipyard support during U.S. World War II military efforts, the local impact of Japanese internment camps, and how U.S. women’s roles expanded during that era. They also heard firsthand accounts from two original “Rosies,” including insights from 97-year-old Betty Reid Soskin—an eloquent and inspiring speaker who is the oldest National Park Ranger in the United States.
“Hearing Betty Reid Soskin’s perspective of the WWII Home Front was the best speech I’ve ever heard,” said Carolina Verrini Lenzi, 17. “Her thoughts about forgotten history and coexisting truth were incredible, and her life is so impressive. She’s just the most amazing, witty, and inspirational woman. I would really love to be her friend and just talk about all her views on life.”
Meeting Ranger Betty Reid Soskin (second from right) at the Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park was a highlight for many Juniors.
Seize the Opportunity to Become a Junior Commissioner!
Along with expanding leadership skills, creativity, and resumes for future pursuits, Junior grads valued the chance to interact with teens from diverse backgrounds and county locales.
“I’ve met some amazing high school girls and powerful women in our county, and I’ve learned so much,” said Carolina, who just graduated from Technology High School in Rohnert Park. “I’m grateful to the Commission for giving me opportunities to explore my passions.”
“Being on the Commission has encouraged me to question the political process,” added Grace, who’s heading to Stanford. “And being around passionate youth who care about their representation in local and national government has fed my passion for female rights.
“Join the Commission!” Grace encouraged future applicants. “It will help you find your voice about local and national politics and policies, and you’ll be surprised how much you can positively impact your friends, family, and community. Don’t pass up the opportunity!”
2018-2019 class of Junior Commissioners celebrate graduation with their adult mentors.
Acceptance into the Junior Commissioners’ program is based on a written application and interview process. Applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are now being accepted through March 6, 2020.
For more information visit: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Commission-on-the-Status-of-Women/ or contact CSW at firstname.lastname@example.org .