For Tevin Williams, meeting some of his state’s lawmakers was a little intimidating at first.
“I was definitely a little nervous,” said Williams, an 11th-grade student at Pathways High School in Killeen. “They ended up being very friendly; I think that made talking with them easier.”
Williams was one of about 30 students from across the state who traveled to Austin for four days last week as part of the Texas School Safety Center’s Texas Youth Summit.
Held during each biannual legislative session, the summit tasks the group of students with researching and developing strategies to help prevent tobacco use among teens, then presenting their ideas to state lawmakers.
Williams said the group began by learning about how the state’s laws are created and passed, then worked together to develop their smoking prevention ideas.
“We ended up with three ideas,” Williams said. “They were things like raising the smoking age to 21, increasing Texas’ cigarette tax by $1.15 and banning smoking inside buildings.”
Williams then had to present those ideas, and met with lawmakers and their aides.
“They don’t get to see a lot of youth up there,” Williams said. “They told me they’d like to see more young people getting involved.”
In the end, Williams said he thought participating in the summit helped him improve his public speaking skills, and recommended other students try it as well.
“It was a good way to learn how to be professional and how to present yourself to other people,” he said. “It was a pretty cool experience.”
Chiquata Wright, a Pathways English teacher, said this was the second time Pathways students had participated in the summit.
“It really helps them build a lot of leadership skills and self-confidence,” Wright said. “It also helps them build skills in networking and communication.”
Williams was not the only student from the Killeen Independent School District to attend the summit this year. Shoemaker High School senior Dominique Jefferson also participated in the event.