The 5th Annual Public Policy Symposium was held June 1st, 2016, in the beautiful Gaston Hall Auditorium on the campus of Georgetown University. Guests enjoyed student presentations about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, Access to College for Undocumented Students and Residential Segregation.
Friend of Chavez Schools and Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Academic Excellence for African Americans, David Johns delivered a moving keynote address to the audience that stressed the importance putting students first and giving "the babies" a platform and the foundational support that they need no matter where they are.
The Symposium spotlights Chavez Schools Seniors as they present their public policy thesis research and share ideas for solving some of the most pressing issues in our community and in our world.
Read on to read student bios and download their thesis presentations!
White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
As executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, Johns works to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African American student achievement—from cradle to career. The initiative works across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students.
Prior to joining the Department, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Before working for the Senate HELP committee, under Chairman Harkin, Johns served under the leadership of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth and early childhood education, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males, both within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males.
Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies.
Scholar Bios and Presentations
Access to College for Undocumented Students
Brenda Guevara started her school career at Chavez in the 7th grade. She has taken part in several activities such as the Mentor Foundation, Mentors and Medicine Program, and a three week Fellowship at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. Outside of school, Brenda has also taken on leadership roles such as participating in a mock hearing at the City Council, representing Council Member Anita Bonds. This fall, Brenda will be attending Marymount University, pursuing a degree on Sociology. She hopes to use her degree as a tool to help her community and explore the issues that she is passionate about.
Georgia State University
Robotic Engineering & Sports Management
Alexys is a very active scholar who has earned the respect of her peers and educators. The Student Government Association, Modeling Club, and the Tiger Woods Learning Center at her high school are just a few of the programs and activities Alexys participates in. Through her hard work, she has been on the Principal’s List and Honor Roll while maintaining perfect attendance! A well-rounded student with a healthy thirst for learning, Alexys excels in everything she sets her mind on.
Upon graduation from Chavez in 2016, Alexys will attend Georgia State University where she will double major in robotic engineering and sports management. These fields of study will allow her to dive into research related to epilepsy and give her the opportunity to create systems and processes that will support those in need.
Syrian Refugee Crisis
Since the tenth grade, Nick has been engaged in the New Orleans & Back program, where he taught new students how to be leaders and assisted in the ongoing rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. Outside of school, Nick currently volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in which he ensures visitors are knowledgeable of the content in exhibits. Nick was recently featured in an Education Week blog written by the CEO of Getting Smart, Tom Vander Ark from his visit to Chavez Schools. Nick has earned honor roll recognition every quarter since the second quarter of ninth grade and will be graduating as valedictorian of his class. This upcoming fall, Nick will be attending Hampden-Sydney College, and plans to enter the Honors and Freshman Leadership programs while studying Biology towards the Pre-Medicine program.