Rock Island High School student Aline Niyogusenga has a full plate in her senior year. On top of keeping up with her academics, Aline is Vice president of the Student Council, Vice President of the African American Heritage Club, a member of the Culture Appreciation club, a Student Ambassador, and a member of the National Honor Society and Art Club. Her work doesn't stop there.
This year she has the responsibility of representing the entire Black Hawk region (Rock Island County, Henry County, Mercer County) by giving input at the state level on ways to better help students navigate the education system.
"It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also kind of fun to be like hey I represent everyone," said Aline.
Aline was chosen to sit on the Illinois Education and Career Success Network's Student Advisory Council. She is one of 14 students from across the state that sit on the council and the first Rocky student to do so. Students on the Student Advisory Council get the opportunity to contribute to recommendations to improve educational experiences and outcomes for students across Illinois, leadership development opportunities, access to Success Network leaders from around the state, and opportunities to learn about diverse careers in the education sector.
"She is an exemplary AVID student and young person," said Jennifer Johnson, Aline's AVID (Advance Via Individual Determination) teacher.
Johnson encouraged Aline to apply, "She strives to reach her goals and always treats others with kindness. Whenever I or her classmates need help, she always volunteers to assist us. Additionally, Aline possesses a growth mindset and is always eager to learn and challenge herself. She also devotes her time to making our school and community better."
Students have to fill out an application to apply. If their application is chosen students then have an interview with a board over zoom. The board then decides which students are selected to be on the council.
"It's actually kind of funny because I found out I was selected during my AVID period with Mrs. Johnson," said Aline.
The council meets virtually three times a year for an hour and a half.
“We tell them what’s going on in our buildings and what are some flaws we can fix and then they kind of like take that and create something that we can use to advocate the school," said Aline.
This year the council is focusing on sharing tools to help students prepare for life after high school. Students are given assignments throughout the year to work on.
Aline says it's been cool to collaborate with other students from across the state, "It’s been fun. It’s really interesting to see how they do their school system and how it’s really different from my school system and how I can take from what they do and bring it here or vice versa.”
But its the opportunity to have her voice heard as a student that Aline is most excited to be a part of, “I feel like that’s the best way to do it is to just ask the students themselves because they can give you a different perspective than if you were to ask an adult who just has an outside perspective," said Aline.
She hopes her involvement in the Student Advisory Council will encourage her classmates to get involved as well, “It’s important to make connections in your everyday life whether it's making friends or just getting acquainted with your teachers or advisors.”
Aline plans on attending college after she graduates and major in psychology.
As part of a Student Advisory Council assignment, Aline made a college prep checklist flyer that she posted around RIHS and presented it at a teacher-student meeting. She also presented it in some of the clubs she's active in.