Using Writing To Claim Your Space

Marlize Velasco

My name is Marlize Velasco. I’m currently a freshman at Cabrillo majoring in political science. My ambition with a political science major is to  become a county district supervisor. I’ve been doing student leadership for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (COE) for about a year. I started as a member for Youth for Environmental Action during my junior year even during the start of COVID. I still had the passion to be involved in student leadership even during distant times. Having this experience has motivated me to continue to be passionate about student advocacy.

I thank Celeste Gutierrez, the COE’s Student Leadership & Engagement Coordinator, for involving me in many leadership opportunities. I feel like she saw me as a shy girl with lots of opinions who needed a space to allow my voice to be heard. And for this I’m grateful. Because of this I learned that my voice matters and that I need to take up space in areas that need: youth representation, brown girl representation, queer representation. I call this taking up space. 

In many leadership groups I’ve been in the minority. I want to plant the seed for voices by youth like me to express what they are passionate about. I want them to create space and claim their space. Our voices can be heard through our rhetoric. Our message will be powerful if we unite and write. 

I care that Santa Cruz can hear what we have to say. I want Santa Cruz to know we will use any platform given to us to use. We know how to write. We have been taught how to write for book reports that sometimes we didn’t read for we were taught to write about topics in education that never really made us passionate. However, we will be our own teachers and we will teach ourselves how to deliver messages that we feel need to be heard. I hope my writing motivated you to write and be part of this. 

Over the course of this school year I’ll be working with COE and the youth leadership groups to help you the youth taking up your space: taking up the space that needs change that needs your voice. I’m confident that your writing will pave the wave for change. If you would like to get involved please contact Celeste via email at one prerequisite is that you need to be in a leadership committee that is facilitated by Santa Cruz County Office of Education.

The Student Voices section is authored by Santa Cruz County students. Views expressed reflect those of the post’s author, not the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.