Student Advisory Council

Jeremy Avan
East St. Louis Sr. H.S.
Class of 2023
I have made changes in my school by effectively communicating with higher-ups and voicing the opinion of my peers. Within my community, I have managed and helped several non-profit organizations, putting together clothing giveaways, community baby showers, and care packages for the homeless.
Alex Casas
Mendota Township H.S.
Class of 2023
I led a group project on sexual abuse and contacted the local charity Freedom House. They sent flyers to give out in class, and I also had them hung around the building. I asked my school resource officer to be a guest speaker about the legal process for sexual abuse. My presentation won $100 to donate to Freedom House.
Isabelle Escatel
Mendota Township H.S.
Class of 2023
I have demonstrated leadership in my school by helping new students feel welcome. For example, I was more than happy to be partners with the new girl on our volleyball team who didn’t speak English. I did my best to teach her what to do when she didn’t understand.
Cecelia Fumo
Auburn H.S.
Class of 2024
As captain of cross country, I communicate with the team daily to create schedules and coordinate with our coach, but also to create a comfortable team environment (my favorite part). As a part of the SSAC for RPS 205, I am communicating with all students in the district to report to the board and recommend policy. I am also a passionate volunteer leader and coordinator for Rockford Promise to provide RPS students with free higher education.
Olivia Hendrix
Belvidere North H.S.
Class of 2024
I try to advocate for those who can’t. Freshman year, I expressed to the principal that the dress code excluded the religions and cultures of minorities, even though these garments don’t pertain to me. The handbook was changed to explicitly state that cultural, religious, and medical headpieces are allowed.
Joshua Hernandez
Westinghouse College Prep
Class of 2023
I have participated in leadership programs including the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. In my classes, I’m usually the one taking charge and helping my peers.
Jozlyn Mahnesmith
Jozlyn Mahnesmith
Rockford East H.S.
Class of 2023
I demonstrate leadership in TRIO Upward Bound because no matter how many people are in the program, I try my best to interact with and ask about their life at the appropriate time.
Irais Montoya
Irais Montoya
Wheeling H.S.
Class of 2023
I am in Student Council and NJROTC, so I have to be a leader and I help freshman learn their basic skills. Since being in NJROTC, I am more open now in my classes and usually take the lead in projects or groups.
Anusha Nadkarni
Anusha Nadkarni
Bloomington H.S.
Class of 2023
Recently, I co-led an initiative to create a Bloomington chapter of Diversify Our Narrative, which is focused on implementing anti-racist media into our schools to ensure inclusivity and educate the student body on the struggles of marginalized groups.
Aline Niyogusenga
Rock Island H.S.
Class of 2023
I participate in Student Council, Student Ambassador, Cultural Appreciation Club, National Honors Society, and African American Heritage Club. All these clubs and organizations help me to be a leader not only in my school but also in my community. They allow me to help people from different backgrounds and keep a smile on everyone's face.
Sestina Oduro
Southland College Prep Charter H.S.
Class of 2023
As the oldest of three girls whose parents are constantly working, I’ve had to step up my game in making sure I’m involved with my siblings' lives. In addition to the responsibilities from school, church, volunteering, etc., I have to assist with homework, chores, and any social-emotional help they may need.
Tristan Poplous
Danville H.S.
Class of 2026
I've demonstrated leadership in school by guiding a number of students in the right direction whilst in class, helping and supporting them with the tools to succeed in the class.
Joanna Renedo
Joanna Renedo
North Chicago Community H.S.
Class of 2023
I will be the first in my family to graduate high school. I’m currently learning Japanese, playing the trumpet, and have joined STEM programs outside of school. I want to become a surgeon and show young kids who come from a similar background as me that they can become one, too.
Qi Zhang
Adlai E. Stevenson H.S.
Class of 2025
Spreading a healthy lifestyle across my community is one of my prominent passions. As a leading member of Catalyst Club’s Policy and Legislation committee, I’ve significantly committed to leading and supporting positive changes. For example, I organized and led a 90-minute presentation. I spoke in front of members of the Vernon Hills Village Board on the ban on flavored tobacco and supported my peers while they were presenting.
Abigail Bowen
Hoopeston Area SD # 11
Class of 2022
Puranjay Gupta
Rockford Auburn H.S.
Class of 2022
Isaiah Haynes
East Saint Louis Sr. H.S.
Class of 2021
Isabella Hernandez
Rockford Auburn H.S.
Class of 2022
Makaela Johnson
Lindblom Math/Science Academy
Class of 2021
Adrian Panopio
Steinmetz H.S.
Class of 2021
Karel Pene
Evanston Township H.S.
Class of 2022
Trinity Pursley
Danville H.S.
Class of 2022
Ashley Smith
John Hersey H.S.
Class of 2022
Cynthia Taylor-Cutler
East St. Louis Sr. H.S.
Class of 2022

About the Student Advisory Council

The most effective change is grounded in the experiences of and inputs from those most impacted by any system. The Network Organizers—Advance Illinois, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems), and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC)—established a Student Advisory Council to gather feedback on how students experience various initiatives that the Network supports. Network Organizers also seek to understand what kinds of supports would be helpful to students as they navigate the education system.

The Council gathers on a regular basis to share their perspectives to inform the Success Network’s efforts and statewide policy more broadly, deepen their own knowledge on issues that advance educational equity, and strengthen their understanding of the education policy and practice landscape in Illinois.

An Introduction to SAC
SAC Ideas for Supporting Students
SAC Panel at the 2022 Conference

Student Advisory Council Role, Responsibilities, and Accountability

The Student Advisory Council members are expected to participate in up to three virtual meetings per academic year. Council members who are unable to attend meetings should notify the Network Director in advance. Members who miss more than two meetings over the course of the academic year and/or are unable to actively participate may be asked to step down to ensure the Council has functional student input.

In addition to the three virtual meetings per year, council members are encouraged to attend the Success Network’s annual conference as possible to increase their familiarity with the Network and its mission.

Who Should Apply?

The Illinois Education and Career Success Network seeks Student Advisory Council members who reflect the diversity of students in the State. The ideal member embodies the following:

  • A current high school student at a public school in one of the Illinois Education and Career Success Network Leadership Communities
  • An openness to new ideas and desire to learn
  • Willingness to share their knowledge about and experiences with education

The Network typically accepts new applications at the start of the school year. Applications are currently closed.

What Can You Expect as a Member of the Student Advisory Council?

  • Meaningful opportunities 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
  • A $100 per meeting stipend as part of your participation

What Is the Time Commitment of the Student Advisory Council?

Membership in the Student Advisory Council is a two-year commitment. Upon completion of a term, members in good standing who are still in high school will be invited to renew for a consecutive term. To ensure continuity, members are selected from all grade levels. To be in good standing, members are expected to attend virtual meetings or communicate conflicts in advance. The Network Director will work with members to identify dates and times that work best around school year schedules.

Student Advisory Council: Winter 2023 Meeting

SAC members provided thoughtful insights on their course selection and advising experiences, plus shared their perspectives on high school graduation, college enrollment, and community college remediation data from the Illinois School Report Card.

Student Advisory Council: Spring 2022 Meeting

The Student Advisory Council gathered for its final meeting of the 2021-2022 school year to discuss work-based learning, networking, and dual credit, plus send off the Class of 2022.

Words of Advice from the Class of 2021

In our May 2021 meeting of the Student Advisory Council, the departing seniors shared lessons learned and future plans with the underclassmen members. Check out their insights!

What’s a Good Job or Career?

In the May 2021 convening of the Student Advisory Council, Juan Jose Gonzalez of Education Systems Center at NIU introduced the concept of the living wage and shared resources for learning more about career opportunities that meet the living wage threshold.