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Meet Stephanie Mayo’15, who emceed the first-ever National Youth Summit

April 11, 2012

Mayo will present Safety or Criminalization? The perceptions Latin@ students have of heavy implementation of security measures in secondary institutions” at 7 p.m. Friday in WAC, as part of the Latin@ Educational Issues Conference.

Stephanie Mayo 2 

Name: Stephanie Mayo’15


Undecided, but possibly education.

You may have seen me:
Talking to my friends in Maurer or 609.

Favorite meal? My favorite meal is my mother's enchiladas.

What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I usually watch “The Office” or “George Lopez,” read books written by racial and feminist theorists, or spend the night talking to friends on my campus.

If you could be reincarnated, what person/thing would you like to be?
Me, of course!

What gets you up in the morning?
Thinking of my family, my community members at home and my future gets me up in the morning. Also, the idea of starting a new day helps.

Who are your heroes?
My heroes are my organizers from the local community organization of my community back in Chicago. They have empowered me to use the privileges I have had compared to the people of my neighborhood to make some sort of difference for low-income, ethnic minorities.

Beatles or Stones?
Beatles!!!!!!!! I love the Beatles.

Proudest moment?
I can't pick between two memories. One of my proudest moments took place in February last year when I emceed the first National Youth Summit in Washington, D.C. in front of 800-900 people. It was the first time the Department of Education was hosting an event dedicated to listening to the suggestions and concerns of students in reforming public education to decrease the racial educational inequities between white and ethnic minority students. I only had time to practice emceeing the night before the summit was going to take place because I attended meetings with members of the DOE like the Secretary of Education the day before, so I was extremely nervous the day of the event. But finally, when the National Youth Summit began, my nervousness went away, and my confidence took over the stage.

I had welcomed everyone to the summit and I introduced speakers with unbounded enthusiasm. For some reason, I was not frightened to speak in front of so many people. I engaged the audience and members of the DOE with jokes and silly remarks, and I received such a great response from the audience. Pretty soon, emceeing on stage felt so natural. After the event, other organizations and members of the audience told me that I had done such a great job. They were very impressed with the amount of energy I had on stage. One of my organizers and a mentor to me, Raul, was very surprised with how I did on stage, which made my day.

My other extremely proud moment was graduating from my high school. That day, I showed my parents, peers, and members of the administration the amount of hard work I had been able to do due to the privileges I have had compared to my peers. I had graduated as the valedictorian of my graduating class, and I had received multiple awards for the numerous extra-curricular activities I had been involved in. Although I had graduated with a lot of prestige, I was just happy to leave my high school. Attending a public, poor-performing inner-city school is not easy. The educational curriculum is not academically rigorous; the atmosphere of a poor performing school does not encourage students to do well. Most teachers and administrative members have low expectations of the ethnic minority students who predominantly attend these inner-city schools due to the stereotypes perpetuated by the media. Some teacher and administrative members even encourage students to drop out of school. When a student attends a poor, inner-city school, he or she needs to prove to his/her teachers that he/she actually wants to go to college, rather than teachers expecting students to want to do well. Although I had been ranked number one for three consecutive years (since my sophomore year), I often contemplated the idea of dropping out. Athough I put the effort in school, my teachers, members of the administration, and the school climate did not reciprocate my effort in constructing my future. That is why when I was so glad to finally graduate from high school. I would no longer have to interact with the oppressive environment of my high school.

What are you most looking forward to?
For this semester, I look forward to the Latin @Educational Conference and becoming a sophomore. Next semester, I look forward to knowing what I will major in.. For the next couple of semesters, I look forward to seeing where college will take me.

Stephanie Mayo 1