Long claims YAG Governor spot, fellow members win big
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When junior Sharif Long stood at the capital podium and gave his campaign speech he was set on becoming the next leader for the Youth and Government(YAG) student organization in the state. He did just that as he received 76% of the votes from his peers around the state to take the position by a majority vote. Long said his platform centered around Transparency, Equality and leaving a Legacy (T.E.L.L.).
“I wanted to build off the previous’ governor’s platform of unity by ensuring that we continue to empower the students involved in the program,” Long said.
Long admits his nomination was a journey of tireless work that led him straight on the path of success. He said he worked on his election while at the same time working for and with other members of the organization.
“I had to first win the nomination of Dallas in order to run at the state level for governor,” Long said. “I had to reach out to several local clubs to talk about the ideas they were having as well as write a speech to present to over 1,000 delegates across the state.”
Long said he has big plans for his future in YAG and has proved himself to be a guiding light for others.
“Now that I am elected, I have to ensure to fulfill the duties and responsibilities that the delegates have entrusted me to execute. In April, the other state-elected officers and I will attend the first YG state board meeting in Dallas to present any program changes that we’d like to be addressed,” he explains the next step.
Long remains humble in his new position and acknowledges those who have helped him.
“Several people have inspired me to run for this office but the big two are Mr. Cain and Jessie Searles,” Long said, “Mr. Cain was the one who brought YG to Duncanville and with his efforts, he’s advocated for all students regardless of their background. [Jessie Searles] opened up to me and encouraged me to be confident in my voice. I will never forget her telling me, ‘You are meant to be here’. Her leadership encouraged me to want to do the same for delegates across the state and that’s why I ran—to serve.”
Long said becoming governor points him in the right direction to be that voice for others.
“He worked tirelessly for the group even before wanting to run for office and even after deciding to run he continued working hard for his club members,” club sponsor Diane Williams praised, “To see all his hard work pay off when they called his name was just something special.”
Not only did Long win the Governor’s spot but his team also earned a few top honors awarded to schools based on their overall performance. The criteria for this award included being judged from the beginning of the school year up to state. Along with abiding by dress code and professionalism, they performed separately in the sections of YAG they were a part of: legislative, judicial, state affairs forum, or media.
In addition to Long, six other members of the team received individual awards: Kennedi Ford, Julia Bowers, Sebastian Caballes, Naomi Sanchez, and Richel Murata earned the Distinguished Delegate award. Bowers also received the award for Outstanding Bill. Although they made it look easy, competing at State was a process that required dedication, responsibility, and political knowledge. Williams broke down the hard work of each role.
“The Legislative students have to prepare by researching their topics and crafting a bill to address an issue that they want to see changed. The judicial team spends countless hours studying the hypothetical case that they have been presented with. This preparation includes memorizing their individual roles. Media has to work on various areas of media such as writing news stories to be published on the organizations’ websites and social media sites,” Williams said.
Long hopes the YAG program will have the same impact on many others as it did for him and his teammates.
“Now that I’m back home, I hope to inspire students locally to participate in this life-changing program so that they can find their voices like I found mine,” Long said. “I also want out YAG club to be a catalyst for change in our community to address real-world issues like climate change, race relations and whatever other problems are affecting us here at home.”
Long carries the ideals and character YAG hopes to produce. Long also admits Youth and Government has paved the way for other students to have a bright future.
“I want to be a champion for people who don’t have a voice by constantly giving back and making people feel better. At state conference, I had validation that my gift is to connect with people regardless of our differences,” Long said, “I am looking forward to apply my gift to positively impact the lives of everyone I can come into contact with.”