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The Student News Site of Piscataway High School

The Chieftain

The Student News Site of Piscataway High School

The Chieftain

Speaker from Eagleton Institute of Politics Discusses Political Engagement with Rho-Kappa Honors Society Students

Our generation’s voice matters. But what’s keeping some young people from voting?
Onari Kahandawa

Do you know that you have a lot of opportunities to engage in politics even at the high school level?

The advisor for the Rho-Kappa/social studies honors society, Mr.Ryan Wernlund, invited Ms. Jessica Ronan-Frisch, the program manager at the Center for Youth Voter Participation and public relations manager at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.  At the Anthony Media Center on Wednesday, January 17th, Ronan-Frisch discussed  her profession, career opportunities in the Political Science field, and how to be politically engaged with the Election of 2024 swiftly approaching.

Jessica Ronan-Frisch, program manager at the Center for Youth Voter Participation, speaks to PHS students about political engagement

Ronan-Frisch described how she enjoyed giving the speech and how interacting with the students made the experience all that much better.

“I was invited by the Rho Kappa advisor, Mr. Ryan Wernlund, to really talk about opportunities for young adults and high school students to get involved in politics, and to share a little bit about my experience of working in Political Science,” Ronan-Frisch said.

Many students mentioned how this speech was a great opportunity to learn about the voting process and Political Science field.

“The most important thing I probably learned was that [NJ citizens] can sign up for voting automatically using your driver’s license,” Rho-Kappa treasurer and PHS senior, Tanvi Vidya said. “I think that was really cool. I also found it interesting how it varies depending on the state, because she mentioned how in Pennsylvania it doesn’t automatically make you eligible.I have plans to continue what I learned about voting because I want to be involved in the voting process.”

It’s often as teenagers become adults that they realize how current events can directly affect them. Rho-Kappa president and PHS senior, Alexandra Sinckler described her favorite part of the speech.

“I think my favorite part of the speech was talking about how people get involved, specifically young generations,” Sinckler said. “We talk a lot about how we want change, and I feel like that’s the main thing that we’re going to get [if we vote].”

Voting helps citizens become more involved in their government and keep it accountable. To vote, you must meet specific requirements. Secretary of Rho-Kappa and PHS senior, Naveena Pillai stated that she is going to vote this year as she turns 18.

“I found it really useful how [Ronan-Frisch] went over all the different parts of the election,” said Pillai. “Like primaries and what exactly happens on Election Day. I’m already 18, so I’m going to start using what I learned by voting this year.”

For many teens, politics rank low on the list of personal priorities. However, how we are governed in our everyday lives often depends on the officials we elect in our own backyard. So, if you are concerned about issues like having good schools, low crime neighborhoods, clean air and water, and decent public transportation, you should vote for those who you believe will represent your interests.

“I think the most important thing students should understand is that their voice matters,” Ronan-Frisch said. “That they have a lot of opportunities to engage in politics even at the high school level.”

In addition to the information about political engagement, the students were also interested in Ronan-Frisch’s role as program manager at the Center for Youth Voter Participation

“I think probably the most challenging aspect of my job is how busy it is at times and how often in politics we have to move very very quickly with the work that we are doing and things change all the time,”  Ronan-Frisch said. “We have to be very on top of issues and topics and things that are happening in the news. So I think that is probably the most challenging. Some ways that I overcome it is I’m trying to stay really engaged in what’s happening online, and also in the media. I also have a good team of supporters, so that I know that I can count on them as well to help me navigate the workload.”

Ronan-Frisch offered advice to the students who are considering political science as a college major.

“I would say to reach out to the staff and faculty that are around,” Ronan-Frisch said. “They’ll be able to help you. I think when we have young adults often most people really do want to help them, especially in a university setting or your college setting. So definitely reach out to the officers and the departments that you are interested in working with and see if there’s opportunities for you to get involved even if it’s for an hour or two for a week. People want to be helpful but you just have to ask for the help.”

Students began to apply her advice almost immediately.

“I [was excited when I] found out she is from Rutgers,” Vidya said. “I thought it was a good opportunity to communicate and interact, because I always wanted to work on finding new connections.”

According to secretary of Rho-Kappa and PHS senior, Naveena Pillai, there will be another event coming up.

“Yes, we’re having more guest speakers from Rutgers on February 14 in the school library, Dr. Julia Rubin, who is the Associate Dean of Academic Programs and the Program Chair for the Master of Public Policy Program, and Christina Torian, the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education.”

If you are interested in joining the Rho-Kappa/social studies honors society, applications will open in May to become a member.

To find out more about PHS Rho-Kappa/social studies honors society, contact Mr.Ryan Wernlund through Schoology messaging, or stop by room D242.
Rho-Kappa meets once a month on Wednesday 2-3PM.

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About the Contributor
Onari Kahandawa
Onari Kahandawa, Chieftain Reporter
Hi, I’m Onari! I am a senior at Piscataway High School and this is my first year in Chieftain. Taking journalism class encourages me to join to Chieftain. In my free time I like to play badminton, running, learning new languages, playing guitar and drawing.

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