A teen from Rycroft says her time so far on the Minister’s Youth Council has been “invaluable”. Olivia Sekulic is one of 32 youth from across Alberta who are part of the 2017-2018 group, which has already met twice this school year.

Olivia Sekulic, Peace Wapiti School Division

The grade 11 Spirit River Regional Academy student came into the experience wanting to focus on rural education. She says she and three others have made recommendations to Education Minister David Eggen on how to attract and retain high quality teachers in rural areas.

“A lot of rural schools struggle to get enough teachers or teachers with subject area specialization for their classes,” Olivia explains. “That was something that was really important to us and I think the minister of education really became more aware.”

The Minister’s Youth Council is meant to be a way for the students involved to give their first-hand perspective on the province’s education system, as well as build leadership skills. They meet for four days in Edmonton up to three times in the year. Olivia says it’s also given her an inside look at the intricacies of government.

“What my experience really showed me is that I really love policy and legislation and how the government works, and it definitely made me aware of different career paths in civil service and working for the government. I really want to get a Bachelor of Commerce and hopefully go into law.”

Eggen is already recruiting for the 2018-2019 Minister’s Youth Council. Applications are open to all junior and senior high school students, with the deadline to apply March 30th. Olivia says youth shouldn’t be afraid to get involved.

“Figure out in your experience in school and in the education system what did you find lacking and what would be personally important to you and is an interesting perspective you could bring to the council.”

That’s what she did with her recommendations on rural education, and says she proud of the work she’s put in that could have a lasting effect in Alberta.