The Students’ Voice: Alexandra learns civic engagement by participating on a county board

Alexandra Yoest

Alexandra Yoest

Students are the future of any community, providing the next generation of families, workers, elected officials and leaders.

With that in mind, Broome County Executive and SUNY Broome alumnus Jason Garnar announced the formation of the Student Board of Advisors, the first completely student-driven youth delegation in Broome County government. Created in the spring, the panel is comprised of members of local high schools, as well as SUNY Broome, Binghamton University and Davis College.

Representing SUNY Broome are Alexandra Yoest and Bridget Bar. As members of the panel, they have the opportunity to directly advise the Broome County Executive, meet government officials, and learn about local government and the policy process, as well as gain valuable leadership skills in civic engagement.

“A lot of people my age don’t like to talk about politics, but policies are going to affect them, so they should,” said Yoest, a freshman in the One Year Associate in Arts (AA1) degree program.

A Chenango Forks graduate, Yoest previously witnessed the workings of local government through Broome-Tioga BOCES New Visions program, in which she visited Binghamton Family Court and City Court. She also participated in an internship under the previous Broome County Executive, and was eager to deepen her knowledge when she learned about the Board of Advisors opening.

“Being able to get involved in this program is an interesting and important opportunity,” she said. “I’d like to see what is important to students. I think it will be a growing experience for me and the county executive also.”

Alexandra didn’t initially plan on attending SUNY Broome, but the local option made more sense financially. The AA1 program has proven to be challenging, but good preparation for any level of study – and a chance to form bonds with her fellow AA1 students, a small and dedicated group who share many of the same classes. The program’s Research Methods study is taught like a graduate course, she said.

While the AA1 program is academically rigorous, it teaches lessons outside the classroom, too. “I thought it would be a good learning experience on how to manage my time wisely,” said Yoest, who also works at Weis.

The board is also good training for Yoest’s future: After completing her Associate’s, she plans on transferring to another SUNY school to study political science.

“Eventually I would like to work in a nonprofit that helps to advocate for civil rights,” she said.

As a member of the advisory board, Alexandra would like to connect with SUNY Broome students on their issues and concerns. She invites students to email her at yoestac@acad.sunybroome.edu.