By Emaan Riaz,
Senior Kathleen Pan is one of Davis High’s most committed community members. Besides participating in Blue Devil cheerleading, Pan is involved in eight different clubs, and is an officer in four of them. This year, Pan has taken on the role of president for a club she started at DHS, Junior State of America.
JSA is one the nation’s largest political organizations for high school students, and aims to prepare today’s youth for a life-long involvement in American democracy and leadership.
Pan chose to start the club at DHS after attending a JSA summer camp.
“It really opened my eyes […] I believe that in a community where we’re so diverse, we need a club where people who have an interest in politics can come together–no matter what party they’re in,” she said.
JSA meetings essentially run as a mock government in which Pan is president, senior Sophie Chertok is vice president and 15 members make up the cabinet board. Every member of the club is assigned a different position with its own responsibilities.
For example, the officer that is assigned “environment” has the duty of learning about a current event that relates to environmental politics and presenting it at the meeting.
At the JSA summer camp–which Chertok also attended–meetings were often varied.
“We would have formal debates. We had important political figures speak and we would take notes and ask questions,” Chertok said.
Other activities also include creating mock trials and educational simulations.
Because JSA is a huge organization with more than 50,000 members nationwide, a variety of large events take place outside of school. For instance, at an event called Fall State, which takes place at the California State Capitol, members of JSA have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to debate on the assembly floor.
Although it is unlikely that DHS members will go this fall, Pan expects that the club will have the opportunity to attend next year.
She is optimistic about JSA’s future and hopes that the club will succeed in uniting political enthusiasts.
“I’m currently a senior and I want to make sure that before I leave, I make some type of a difference. I really, really enjoy politics and I just want this club to be a place where people can share their opinions,” she said.
Despite Pan’s love for politics, she was never as involved as she is now. With both of her parents as engineers, she grew up being pushed into the world of math and science.
“My junior year, after I took all of the classes they wanted me to take, they let me intern with Congressman John Garamendi; that’s what catapulted me into politics,” she said.
Pan’s passion for politics goes beyond the DHS community: she is currently involved in the 2016 presidential campaign as a founder of Davis Youth for Bernie Sanders.
Pan said that although she respects all the other Democratic candidates, Sanders has her full support because of his consistent and liberal views. She decided to create the branch for youth to draw their attention towards Sanders.
“A lot of people think that political campaigns are for old people, which is totally not true. I want more younger people to get involved because politics are one of those things that directly affect everyone,” Pan said .
She and her partner Chertok are basing the youth campaign off of what they learned last year at Garamendi’s internship.
“I got into politics because of that campaign. Me and Kathleen are the lead people in charge of Youth for Bernie Sanders and we’re going to be starting up phone banking soon,” Chertok said.
In addition to phone banking, the group attends public events like the Farmer’s Market so it can talk to people, hand out fliers and spread the word.
“We also control the social media, since we are teenagers and we’re good at it. Through that, we are basically trying to reach a wider audience and share what Bernie stands for,” Pan said.