College students from Rockland County, New York, met with area officials, including Senator David Carlucci and Rockland County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, at a roundtable to discuss plans to better engage Rockland's youth and young adults on issues of health, education, and civic engagement.
Pearl River High School graduate Mark Svensson (left) and Rockland County Chairwoman Harriet Cornell share ideas at the Rockland County Public Advocacy Roundtable Discussion at RCC.
Answering President Obama's call for citizens to debate and discuss issues of the day through roundtable discussions, Mark Svensson of Orangeburg and Marvin Mathew of Spring Valley organized Rockland County's first Public Advocacy Roundtable. Held August 11 at Rockland Community College (RCC), student leaders representing eight towns and villages across Rockland convened with public officials including, Senator David Carlucci and Rockland County Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell, to discuss and develop plans of action to better engage Rockland's youth and young adults.
The students were a mix of college upperclassmen and recent high school graduates. They included:
- Mark Svensson of Orangeburg (Georgetown University Class of 2012)
- Robert Chapklin of West Nyack (Georgetown University Class of 2012)
- Angel Torres of Haverstraw (SUNY Rockland Community College Class of 2012)
- Marvin Mathew of Spring Valley (University of Maryland Class of 2013)
- Esteban Gulijarro of New City (Harvard University Class of 2015)
- Zarah Ahmed of Nyack (Princeton University Class of 2015)
- Carlos Ortiz of Pomona (University of Rutgers Class of 2015)
- Neil Francis of Pearl River (James Madison University Class of 2015)
RCC President Cliff L. Wood took part in the meeting, pointing to the importance of student involvement in their communities: "Students may not have money, but they have time," he said.
State Senator David Carlucci (D-New City) and Chairwoman Harriet Cornell of the Rockland County Legislature also joined the panel, with Orangetown Town Council Candidate Elijah Reichlin-Melnick representing U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel.
On behalf of U.S Congressman Eliot Engel, Reichlin-Melnick said, "The first and most famous roundtable, in King Arthur's court, was meant to show that all the knights were equal. Today, you are again meeting as equals to share your ideas."
The ideas were certainly flowing. With the support and guidance of the public officials and one another, the student participants each developed plans of action. These plans ranged from engaging Rockland's youth and young adults on issues of health, education, civic engagement, and more.
Regarding the roundtable discussion, Senator Carlucci said, "I think this is a great idea to just put our heads together and listen to some concerns and work on strategies moving forward."
Commenting on the students plans of actions Chairwoman Cornell stated, "Your focus on health, education, and civic engagement and your initiative to serve as role models and mentors to other young people elicit optimism and hope during a time when there is so much instability in the world."
Svensson, a rising senior at Georgetown University, and Mathew, a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park, anticipate seeing all the student plans of action come into fruition in the coming months ahead, and will look to continue to organize more roundtable discussions throughout Rockland.