Student Voice & Activism Fellows

Student Voice & Activism Fellows

SVAF is a district leadership team dedicated to advancing and deepening student voices in all schools and across district systems and structures. SVAF informs, shapes, and strengthens the district's commitment to inclusive partnerships with students.

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Grace Ayena
Senior at Steinmetz College Prep

My name is Grace Ayena (she/her/hers). I joined SVAF because I wanted to help create a better experience for the next generation of CPS students. I want the next generation of CPS students to know that their voices are heard and they are seen. Oftentimes as young people we are so used to being ignored or choices being made for us because we haven't been given the opportunity to rise to the occasion. SVAF taught me the importance of giving space.

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Valeria Barron
Sophomore at Nicholas Senn High School

Hi, my name is Valeria Barron (she/her/hers). I joined SVAF because as a young woman of color, I’ve faced and struggled with a lot of issues that CPS often ignored over the years. I feel that a lot of mental health issues and safety issues are overlooked and I want to change that. SVAF has given me the chance to talk to people who directly work with CPS and use my voice to speak up.

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Mikayah Cheeks
Senior at Walter H Dyett High School

Hi! My name is Mikayah and my pronouns are she/her. I believe that all students should have a voice. SVAF has taught me that, as a student and human being, my thoughts and feelings aren’t limited just because an adult is in the room. I’ve learned that I’m able to feel and exist however I please. I look forward to continuing to learn how to further present my best self in every space I enter.

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Leeah Dixon
Junior at Kenwood Academy High School

My name is Leeah Dixon. I am a junior at Kenwood Academy High School and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I joined SVAF because I believe that the youth have the potential to change things and make a difference to the world in a positive way.

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Aaliyah Johnson
Senior at Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep High School

I’m a senior at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory High School. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am from the South Side of Chicago.

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Affan Leebe
Junior at Northside College Prep

I am Affan and my pronouns are he/him/his. I joined SVAF because I noticed the widespread disparities in facilities within several Chicago Public Schools and I wanted to have a voice in changing that or at the minimum, spread awareness on the fact many schools struggle with a lack of resources in comparison to others. This school year, I'm looking forward to strengthening relationships between students and CPS leadership because I believe that is the foundation in implementing significant change.

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Isabel Marroquin
Senior at Lincoln Park High School

My name is Isabel and I attend Lincoln Park High School. I've never felt like my voice was being heard growing up, so I want to ensure that all students are being represented. SVAF provides me with the opportunity to learn about the CPS system and how to advocate on the behalf of students. I’m looking forward to working with other students leaders in order to amplify student voice and organize change.

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Ximena Martinez
Senior at Hubbard High School

Hi, my name is Ximena Martinez and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I joined SVAF because I believe that students should also have the opportunity to choose and gather their opinion on any change that it’s planned to be changed because you never know how much that change can benefit or affect them. Not always adults are the only ones that know what’s best for us students.

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Mumtaz Sajwani
Junior at Mather High School

Hi, my name is Mumtaz. I'm in SVAF because I find it very important for youth voices to be heard, especially in an environment like school and in order to have an equitable system. SVAF provides me with the chance to learn about the structure of CPS and about the jobs that different branches have under this system. I’m looking forward to learning more about CPS and its structure, and to hopefully apply that knowledge to my school's SVC.

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Michelle (Shelly) Perez
Sophomore at Bogan High School

Hi my name is Michelle but I go by Shelly and my pronouns are She/Her. I joined SVAF because I knew that the only people who knows what right for students are students, and if we, as students, amplify our voices more then we can make a change. Being in this program I've learned about so many rights I didn't even know I had. I've also had a lot of interactions with many representatives where I told them exactly what they could do better for us.

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Lucy Robbins
Junior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy

My name is Lucy and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am in SVAF because growing up me and my friends would talk about a lot of issues we have with the way staff would deal with problems at school and the policies but whenever we would bring it up with the staff at school they would just ignore us because of issues like adultism. We decided to never fight for issues we care about again because we felt like our voice wouldn't be heard and it was pointless to put in effort for no outcome.