The murmuring of smalltalk fills a conference room. Elected officials from all over the nation exchange business cards, shaking hands on their way to a public safety committee meeting, or later, a workshop on immigration reform. Most of the people attending this conference are politicians with years of experience in government behind them, but Stormy Davila, one of Ann Richards’ own, gets to attend the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C., during her junior year of high school.
Not just anybody get an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C., however. Stormy Davila serves as a voice for the youth of central Texas through the City of Austin’s Austin Youth Council initiative. “It’s the Austin city council for youth,” Stormy explains, “Three people represent each high school. There’s also people from parts of Pflugerville and Eanes ISD and other places around Austin.”
As AISD’s district representative, Stormy provides a voice for high school students from Austin. “Main people that work on aspects of Austin will come to meet with us, like Austin Energy and water. We’ve met with the mayor about three times for different topics,” she says. Stormy also gets to help prepare community events “We’re currently trying to have a festival for teens and young adults from Austin to find careers, volunteer work, and internships. It will be like a giant fair over the summer.”
This program sends three of these representatives to a conference hosted by the National League of Cities every year. This year, the conference was in Washington, D.C., and Stormy decided to send in an application. When she was selected to go, Stormy was very surprised. “I didn’t know how many people were applying, but apparently quite a few were, so I was really lucky to be chosen,” Stormy adds.
The trip was 4 days, including travel. “Every day we had different sessions, meeting elected officials, talking with elected officials, meeting with other youth delegates from everywhere, making connections, and networking like crazy,” she says. Stormy recalls one of the more exciting moments, meeting the Texas senator Ted Cruz. “A lot of people have different points of view on him, but I think it’s just awesome to meet a senator,” she says.
With other delegates from all around the US, Stormy discussed important issues like natural resources, community involvement, public policy, and education. “We did a lot of learning from what other people have done and what other people are doing to help the people in their city and community,” she says.
Being a part of the Austin Youth Council has taught Stormy a lot about public speaking and talking to people she didn’t know. “I went to the first meeting not knowing anybody or what was happening, and they needed new people to volunteer as district representatives,” she says, “I didn’t really stand up and speak to people in public.”
Encouraged by her history teacher, Ms. Schumacher, and her friends, Georgia Hernandez and Taylor Armstrong (grade 11); she decided to run for AISD district representative with a positive attitude, saying “I don’t know what any of this entails, but let’s do it!” Eventually, she held meetings and talked to other high schoolers with ease.
As far as the future, Stormy doesn’t know where experiences like this will take her. “According to Ms. Schumacher, I should be a bureaucrat. According to me, I just don’t know. I just know I’m going to college for something.”