“Student Leadership Changed My Life”

Who am I, you ask? I always have trouble answering that question, as I feel like I’m not considered anything.

People often say I’m intelligent or a good communicator, which I would agree with so they would not argue with me.

But in reality, there is always someone smarter or better at communicating within this world.

These past few years I learned that if you want to blossom into the person that you wish to become, you mustn’t compare yourself to others and instead focus on your own successes.

My name is Keith Baybayon, a youth advocate and a passionate leader who aspires to create change in the world.

I was not always like this, I used to be so scared of putting myself out there, yet now I’m writing a story that is specifically about me.

It all began when I started attending these general annual meetings during Grades 7 and 8 at the Catholic Education Center. It was called the Elementary Catholic Student Leadership Impact Team, which involved many students from a variety of elementary schools within the Toronto Catholic District School Board.

During these monthly meetings, we would talk about issues within our school community, develop leadership skills and create new bonds. We even had the chance to attend leadership camps, such as Camp Olympia and SMILE Camp, where we learned more about what it takes to become a leader and how to create change.

When I went to Camp Olympia during Grade 7, I ended up winning the Leadership Award. Even though these awards were created by other schools using spare supplies that they could find, it still meant a lot to me.

It taught me that anyone can achieve something that they truly want, as long as they have the passion and determination to work for it. Being part of E-CSLIT allowed me to come out of my shell and meet some amazing people. I became more confident when speaking and socializing and I started to try out for things I usually never would have considered.

I wanted to continue this passion for leadership when I entered high school. The one thought that came to mind was joining the Student Council because I knew I would get a chance to speak and advocate.

I applied for the role of Junior Representative and became one of the two Grade 10s chosen to represent the junior grades. I wanted to take an even greater step. I wanted to have a bigger role, a purpose that would allow me to advocate for students at a higher level.

Then I discovered the position of Student Trustee. Being a Student Trustee means that you are responsible for representing the students within a school board. Once I found out that Grade 10 students were eligible to apply, I got to work. I sent in my application, and my journey to become a Student Trustee began. Due to COVID, the Meet the Candidates Night and the Election Day were delayed and became online.

I was very nervous because I have never done anything like this before. Hundreds of students were going to listen to my speech and learn why I even wanted the role of Student Trustee. I kept discouraging and convincing myself that I had no chance and that these other candidates were of a higher caliber.

Soon after, I started reminding myself of my reasons for wanting this role and even my past accomplishments. I knew in my heart that I was capable of competing but I was only making up excuses. I eventually said my speech online and then two days later I was announced the TCDSB Student Trustee for the 2020/2022 year. From there on, I vowed to never let my negative thoughts affect my decisions, as I am in charge of my own future.

Now you probably have a sense as to who I really am, and what my passions are.

I am a youth advocate that strives to create an inclusive and equitable school environment.

I want the best for the students within the Toronto Catholic District School Board. However, don’t forget, I did not start out this way. I was a shy kid who used to only speak when asked to, but now, I share my opinions and amplify my voice for the benefit of others. I hope you will all use your voice to fight for something that you truly believe in, never let your negative thoughts and feelings stop you from achieving your dreams.

-Keith Baybayon
Follow me on Instagram: @K.andreee

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