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To move through life both professionally and personally, you have to be a good people person.

Yancey Spruill, CEO DigitalOcean

What I Know Now: Yancey Spruill, CEO DigitalOcean

Student Advisory Board Member Noah had the opportunity to speak with Yancey Spruill, CEO of DigitalOcean, just before he graduated from high school. Yancey shared insights from his education and his professional journey from engineer to Wall Street to working in technology. Tune into our latest episode of What I Know Now to hear these highlights and more from Yancey’s interview: 

About Yancey Spruill
As Chief Executive Officer, Yancey drives the overall strategy for DigitalOcean leading the company through its next phase of profitable growth. He brings a wealth of technical, financial, and leadership experience and spent the last 15 years in senior executive roles at technology companies including SendGrid and DigitalGlobe. Yancey started his career working as a manufacturing engineer at Corning Incorporated and The Clorox Company. He also has extensive investment banking experience focused on mergers and acquisitions at JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers, and Thomas Weisel Partners. More about Yancey >>

About the Student Advisory Board
Our Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a collaborative leadership experience for Boulder Valley School District high school students. The SAB brings together 13 students enrolled in Boulder Valley’s high schools to share their perspectives in order to advise Impact on Education’s initiatives and guide our investments. More about the SAB >>

What I Know Now: Maris Herold, Boulder Police Chief

I’m a big believer that opportunity structure is the number one reason we have crime and disorder.

Boulder Police Chief, Maris Herold

Sara and Jasper, two members of our Student Advisory Board, had the opportunity to speak with Chief Maris Herold of the Boulder Police Department back in May. Prior to her 2020 appointment as Boulder Police Department’s Chief of Police, she worked for the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) for 23 years where she focused on innovative strategies to better her community and the department itself. Watch Chief Herold’s What I Know Now interview to hear more about the following highlights and more:

About Maris Herold
First appointed as Boulder Police Chief in 2020, Chief Herold previously served as Chief at the University of Cincinnati Police Division (UCPD) and has 23 years of experience with the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD). She has an educational background in Sociology with a Bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. Chief Herold has prioritized diversity-focused recruiting initiatives and officer access to enhanced technological platforms. She has been recognized for her crime reduction initiatives and was awarded the 2017 Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem Oriented Policing for her work at CPD. Learn more >>

About the Student Advisory Board
Our Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a collaborative leadership experience for Boulder Valley School District high school students. The SAB brings together students enrolled in Boulder Valley’s 13 high schools to share their perspectives in order to advise Impact on Education’s initiatives and guide our investments. More about the SAB >>

“It doesn’t have to be familiar, it doesn’t have to be safe all the time. I can go and take these risks and grow as a person.”

Shaz Zamore, ATLAS Institute

What I Know Now: Shaz Zamore, ATLAS

Dr. Zamore (they/them) obtained their PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior from the University of Washington Seattle in 2015 and is currently an ATLAS Instructor with the University of Colorado. Their work combines a background in neurobiology and neuroengineering and their drive and focus for diverse social engagement. Our Student Advisory Board members, Emery and Paul, had the opportunity to interview Dr. Z, and here are a few highlights from our latest episode of What I Know Now:

About Dr. Shaz Zamore 
Dr. Shaz Zamore (they/them) is an ATLAS instructor and STEM outreach coordinator at the University of Colorado. Their interests span a range of scientific promise from creating accessible science and education outreach with a focus on neurosciences, to exploring the neural network and sensations of animals. Dr. Zamore is a first generation American who is heavily invested in outreach and inclusion. 

About the Student Advisory Board
Our Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a collaborative leadership experience for Boulder Valley School District high school students. The SAB brings together students enrolled in Boulder Valley’s 13 high schools to share their perspectives in order to advise Impact on Education’s initiatives and guide our investments. More about the SAB >>

“Unconscious bias is huge. How do we address unconscious bias in the culture in our organizations? How do we make our workplace more equitable?”

Dr. Everette Joseph

What I Know Now: Dr. Everette Joseph, Director of NCAR

Student Advisory Board Members Lindsey and James had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Everette Joseph, Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Prior to his work at NCAR, Dr. Joseph was the Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the University of Albany, where he co-led the New York State Mesonet, providing direction for advanced weather detection. Dr. Joseph was also the Director of Howard University’s Program in Atmospheric Sciences. Tune into our latest episode of What I Know Now to hear these and more highlights from Dr. Joseph’s interview: 

About Dr. Everette Joseph
Everette Joseph became the Director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 2019 after leading the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the University of Albany. Dr. Joseph originally received his Ph.D in Physics from the University of Albany with an emphasis on atmospheric science. Since 2014, he has remained a Board member of the Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine alongside his roles as principal investigator of over $90 million of research projects and grants from a range of national research organizations. More about Dr. Joseph >>

About the Student Advisory Board
Our Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a collaborative leadership experience for Boulder Valley School District high school students. The SAB brings together students enrolled in Boulder Valley’s 13 high schools to share their perspectives in order to advise Impact on Education’s initiatives and guide our investments. More about the SAB >>

“As students, we have to start asking the really important question of who’s making the decisions for us.”

Marta Loachamin

What I Know Now: Marta Loachamin, Boulder County Commissioner

Marta Loachamin was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2020 and is the first Latina to hold the office in Boulder County. Marta is a long-time Longmont resident who has worked for social, economic, and housing justice by building opportunities for families throughout Boulder County and the Front Range.

Audrey and Bella from our Student Advisory Board joined Marta for a virtual interview in which you’ll learn:

About Marta Loachamin

Marta was elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 2020, with a term continuing through January 2025, representing District 2. More about Marta >>

About the Student Advisory Board

Our Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a collaborative leadership experience for Boulder Valley School District high school students. The SAB brings together students enrolled in Boulder Valley’s 13 high schools to share their perspectives in order to advise Impact on Education’s initiatives and guide our investments. More about the SAB >>

Between playing basketball and cooking, Roane Edwards also spent time on the Student Advisory Board during his last two years as a student at Fairview High School.

The 18-year-old Boulderite got involved in the Student Advisory Board through his mom, who worked as an educator and suggested he apply. He said the experience was an eye-opener, specifically a summit the SAB attended in his first year.

“We were in these breakout groups where we were discussing ways to improve certain curricula and improving school life, both academically and socially. And that is something I feel pretty passionate about,” Roane said. “It was pretty cool to be in a room with people that could actually make changes … and be able to share my thoughts with them.”

Roane said he was proud that the Student Advisory Board became more diverse over the span from his first to his second year.

“That first year it was mostly white kids as it tends to be from Boulder, and we talked a lot about getting more people from different ethnicities and demographics involved in Student Council and Student Advisory Board,” he said. “And the next year — this year — I noticed that there were more kids from all walks of life in the group.”

“It was pretty cool to be in a room with people that could actually make changes in that field and be able to share my thoughts with them.”

Roane Edwards, Senior at Fairview High School

Roane was excited to come back to the Board for his senior year and celebrate all the traditional high school senior milestones, but those plans were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many people, his understanding of what 2020 would look like evolved as the year went on.

“I really enjoyed the first two months because my brother came back from college, and it was just me and him hanging out at the house, having a good time. Then, as it became more apparent how long this was going to last, and how many things I would eventually miss out on and it took more and more of a hold on my mental health, it was rough,” he said.

All in all, Roane only attended the last two months of his senior year in-person. He found bright spots to be grateful for, however.

“I got to play my last season of basketball. Even though it was half as long and we had to wear masks during games and practice, I was just happy we got to play,” he said. “We’re going to have a prom at the Denver Aquarium, so that will be nice. I’m hoping I’m not going to be dancing with a girl with our masks on.”

Roane likes to cook when he’s not playing basketball, and he also has an interest in environmentalism. After graduation, he plans to go to San Diego State University. 

“I’m not exactly sure what I’ll study out there but probably either marine biology or sports management. Those are two very different things,” he said with a laugh. “Other than that, I plan to travel, save as much money as I can, and learn what I can and see where that takes me.”

Maya Clements joined the Student Advisory Board as a high school senior, which meant that despite many hours of meetings, they have never met their peers on the SAB or the Impact on Education staff in person.

The 17-year-old is politically active, attending protests and advocating for causes on social media.

“My motivation for getting into a lot of political things is that I am an intersection of a lot of different identities. My household is multicultural. My mom is from Bolivia and grew up there, and my dad is Japanese and white, and then I’m also queer,” Maya said. “So I can represent a lot of different communities.”

Although Maya’s year on the Student Advisory Board was different from others’, they brought value to the group by acting as a liaison to the Equity Council.

“I feel that one of the capacities I have been helpful in is as the only person who overlaps between the Student Advisory Board and the BVSD Equity Council.”

Maya Clements, Senior at Boulder High

“My first year was definitely a little weird with the pandemic going on. But I feel that one of the capacities I have been helpful in is as the only person who overlaps between the SAB and the Equity Council so it helps both sides and I can connect those two,” Maya said. 

Maya joined the Board in order to advocate for more sensitivity training among the school district staff and to increase opportunities for district employees from more diverse backgrounds.

Maya said that their involvement with the Student Advisory Board helped them with interpersonal skills, like interviewing. As part of their role on the board, Maya was able to interview fellow person of color Bhavna Chhabra, the tech site director for the Boulder Google campus.

“Being on the board really helped me with knowing how to interview someone. I had never done that before, and I really enjoyed that project,” they said.

In their free time, Maya likes to paint, do artistic sewing projects, and practice martial arts. 

“I do kickboxing but not in a formal capacity yet because I’m still getting used to the idea of going back to a space with other people,” they said. “I’m trying to get back into embroidery projects because I used to do it as a kid, and I always have a little project going with stuff sketched out.”

After graduation, Maya plans to attend either Lewis & Clark College in Oregon or Smith College in Massachusetts.

“I’m still kind of exploring all my paths. Lately, I’m more interested in the idea of becoming either a human rights lawyer or an immigration lawyer because it seems like a service that a lot of people need right now.”

For Boulder High senior Audrey Bahintchie, serving on the Student Advisory Board for BVSD afforded her the opportunity to represent students of color and immigrants and serve her community.

Audrey was born in the Ivory Coast, in West Africa, and speaks French as her first language with English as her second. She is also working on mastering sign language. She said that as an only child, she has a myriad of hobbies to fill her time but spends a lot of her time doing community service.

Besides the Student Advisory Board, Audrey is also in the Black Student Alliance, the Youth Opportunity Board, Rotary Club, and Zonta International, a service organization focused on the rights of women worldwide.

“A lot of my extracurricular activities have an aspect of community service and are related to my core values: diversity and inclusivity,” she said. “I really strive for trying to make a change. After high school, I plan to go to college to get a degree in psychology and medicine. I want to become a family physician.”

 “I really strive for trying to make a change. After high school, I plan to go to college to get a degree in psychology and medicine.”

Audrey Bahintchie, Senior at Boulder High School

The future Dr. Bahintchie said her experience on the Student Advisory Board was valuable and remembered advising the BVSD School Board that students need counseling that goes beyond academics.

“Once, we talked about how we feel about reaching out to our counselors in our school and I said that I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to them because we’ve been taught to look at them as academic counselors and not someone you go to with emotional baggage or if you’re feeling some type of way,” she said.

Audrey added that emotional and therapeutic counseling is needed all the time for students and not just after a national tragedy such as the fatal King Soopers shooting in Boulder.

“Although we came together after that and the counselors were there to help us, I asked that the school district acknowledge that we have counselors to help us with our emotions around these big events like the shooting, but that service isn’t available to us as regularly as it should be,” she said.

Audrey said her time on the Student Advisory Board during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown her how considerate leaders and administrators must be of all perspectives and situations before making a decision.

“It’s really hard to try to see how inclusive you can be and take all the different types of situations and scenarios under consideration and how changing one thing could affect everyone,” she explained. “I definitely gained a respect for our administration and how difficult it can be to decide what happens within our school system. It shows how much of an impact students can establish and enforce when they talk with trusted adults and mentors so we can create a better atmosphere for all of us.”

“I definitely gained respect for our administration and how difficult it can be to decide what happens within our school system.”

Audrey Bahintchie, Senior at Boulder High School

Besides getting her degree in medicine and psychology, Audrey also hopes to continue advocating for her communities. She will be attending CU Boulder in the fall.

As an up-and-coming Boulder politico, Jasper Brockett felt advising the BVSD School Board was the perfect chance to further hone his public speaking and advocacy experience.

To him, it is an extension of one of the country’s founding principles: the people affected by big decisions should get a say in how those decisions are being made. Jasper was working on a municipal effort to allow 16- and 17-year-old Boulderites to vote in school board elections, but there was a change to the state constitution that killed the possibility of that measure.

As the son of a couple heavily involved in the Boulder community, perhaps it was natural for Jasper to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become politically engaged. His father, Aaron Brockett, is a member of the Boulder City Council, and his mom, Cherry-Rose Anderson, serves as the Assistant Treasurer and Civil Engagement Chair for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Jasper said his parents did a great job of encouraging him to explore and expand his interest in debate, policy and public speaking.

“There’s never a rule without a reason with them and if you can come up with a good enough reason that the rule shouldn’t exist, then the rule can shift and change,” Jasper said. “Like when I wanted to get my learner’s permit when I was 15, I had to come up with a debate with evidence as to why it wasn’t a terrible idea.”

Jasper said that during his three years on the Student Advisory Board, he has enjoyed seeing his fellow students find their voices. He recalled that in his second year on the Board, they had an open discussion with BVSD stakeholders about curricula. Over the years, school board members and other district leaders are coming to the Student Advisory Board more for specific feedback.

“That’s a big shift. At first we just threw it at them and hoped it would stick, and now they’re coming to us and asking questions.”

Jasper Brockett, Senior at Boulder High School

“Last year we had that conversation, and we gave feedback to the board unprompted, and this year they came back to (Impact on Education Executive Director) Allison Billings and said ‘We want the feedback again and here’s specifically what we want their views on,’” Jasper explained. “That’s a big shift. At first we just threw it at them and hoped it would stick, and now they’re coming to us and asking questions.”

Jasper said that he would recommend any student who feels like they aren’t being heard to apply to the SAB.

“If any student has opinions and thoughts they feel aren’t being heard, it would definitely be worth looking into the board to see what it feels like,” he said. “I know for a lot of my fellow board members, it helped them put their thoughts and feelings out in a space where they will be listened to.”

Perhaps surprising no one, Jasper plans to study political science at CU Boulder in the fall. He is also open to learning other skills he is passionate about.

“I plan to broaden my skills in order to open up pathways that I might want to connect with,” he said. “I’m going to look into culinary school at some point, and I know CU has a good mixology certificate you can get when you turn 21. So I’m just trying to build skills that I find interesting and that I could build a career with.”

By Karen Antonacci

Abby Cohen knew she was an opinionated Fairview High student, so when the opportunity arose to advise the Boulder Valley School District board, she jumped at the chance.

“I’ve always said that the school district needs to listen to the students more, and I always felt kind of frustrated like we don’t really have much of a voice. Then the Student Advisory Board came along and it was perfect,” she said.

Abby is a senior this year and started on the SAB her junior year. She said she enjoyed advocating for curriculum changes within the school district, specifically making sure high school students receive unbiased civics classes.

“It’s so important, especially right now, to understand politics even if you’re not interested in it. It’s really an important component to being a contributing member of society,” Abby explained. “And Boulder is a very liberal place, and if kids are not learning about those topics in school, they are getting it from their parents and their friends and only getting one opinion in the Boulder Bubble. I think that only getting one side to everything is really dangerous.”

“I’ve always said that the school district needs to listen to the students more, and I always felt kind of frustrated like we don’t really have much of a voice. Then the Student Advisory Board came along and it was perfect.”

Abby Cohen, Senior at Fairview High School

Abby remembered a pre-COVID town hall that the Student Advisory Board members attended with other BVSD stakeholders about curricula.

“There were so many parents and educators and staff, and we were the youngest people in the room. Everyone was kind of blown away like ‘Woah, why are you guys here?’” she said. “We are the ones that the decisions actually affect, so that was really cool to be able to talk to people and share our experience and have them say ‘Oh, I didn’t even know that.’”

The SAB had to shift their focus to helping the school district transition everyone online during the pandemic, but Abby is hopeful that the next cohort can refocus on the curriculum evaluation work. 

She said being a high school senior during COVID-19 was tough, but her college-level criminal justice class at the Boulder TEC kept her sane.

“I’m not doing in-person classes at Fairview because I don’t see the point for myself really. Sometimes it is easier for me to learn at home and part of me is glad to not have to be in high school every day. But I think I would go crazy if I wasn’t going in person to any sort of school at all,” she said.

Abby is very interested in criminal justice and will be studying justice and law at American University in Washington, D.C. in the fall.

“I definitely would like to become a lawyer, and so law school might be in the future for me, but I’ve got to finish undergraduate first,” she said.

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