YAG learns the impact of change


Camille Knecht, Photography Editor

In early March nine students traveled to the N.C. State Legislative building for four days to attend the annual Youth in Government (YAG) Conference. During this time, the students prepared to present their ideas.

All bills created by YAG traveled through a state house and a senate to the Governor’s Cabinet, where five out of seven Wake Forest students’ bills became laws.

“It was awesome. It was really cool, and the big part was that other clubs came up to ours at the convention like, ‘Oh, Wake Forest? We know you!’ because it is very rare that all bills get accepted for one club,” YAG advisor Jeremiah Mattingly said.

The students were also proud of their achievement.

“It was pretty cool that we have gone through the entire senate and house, and it felt like it had a lot of support,” senior Joseph Haston said.

To create their bills, the students reviewed previous examples and collaborated together to improve.

“Students can go as far as you lead them, so when you give them examples, a lot of students are able to follow it and create more on their own,” Mattingly said. “They are great kids, and now they are more experienced.”

Veteran club members also provided advice to assist in strengthening arguments.

“They would write their bills and work on solidifying what their bills are saying and try to get rid of any weaknesses in each other’s bills by helping each other out,” Mattingly said.

Passion for the subject of their bills was another aspect of the creation process.

“Since our bills are written with such compassion and understanding, it is really tough to say which ones stood out,” Mattingly said. “They added their own personal twists.”

For senior Jules Micchia, club president the topic of police training sparked inspiration.

“Our bill was to give police extra psychological training, so police are able to handle higher stress situations better, and this protects both citizens and police,” Micchia said.

Haston wrote his bill to cover the issue of gerrymandering.

“My bill was to create an objective committee to redistrict congressional districts every 10 years with the census to limit gerrymandering, which is destroying our nation,“ Haston said.

Improvements were seen on the students’ skills as well.

“It was a lot of help with public speaking and debating,” Haston said. “My debating skills are definitely strengthened along with picking out the weaknesses of a bill.”

Memories were made as students recalled some of their favorite moments of the trip.

For Micchia a favorite was, “The Friday fun night because they had the free hugs guy there, and me and Erica got our faces painted with Nemo and Dory,” Micchia said.

The experience also provided an opportunity for the students to witness the impact of change.

“When you have an idea in a country like America, you as a citizen can make a difference,” Mattingly said. “Having an idea and being able to voice it and express it is a strong right that we have, and not everybody has that.”