Over the years, APH has watched its students blaze their trails and soar to new heights empowered, confident and ready to chase after their dreams. This year was no exception. Two students, Fleurianne (Fleur) N. ‘22 and Ashlyn G. ‘22 have been selected as two of twelve members statewide of the Inter-ethnic Youth Advisory Board at one of the most nationally recognized hospitals in Massachusetts, Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH).

According to their website, the mission of the Inter-ethnic Youth Advisory Board (I-YAB) “is to engage a diverse group of youth as integral partners in the Massachusetts Area Prevention framework (MAP), BCH’s Trauma and Community Resilience Center’s new multidisciplinary approach to violence prevention.” This is accomplished by gathering a board of 12 youth (ages 15-17) from diverse backgrounds living in Massachusetts to participate in a monthly youth advisory board focused on “youth extremist and targeted violence prevention.” 

Fleur and Ashlyn were encouraged to apply for the Board by APH Dean of Academics, Jan Healy, who commented, “I have Ashlyn and Fleur in my psychology class this semester, and when I saw the call for applications for the I-YAB, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for them based upon the insights they share in our discussions.  Little did I know that so few students from across the state are accepted. I am really proud that Fleur and Ashlyn will be engaging in such important work and also representing APH.” 

Applying would be an extremely in-depth and detailed process consisting of an application, additional recommendations, and a series of interviews. But these students rose to the challenge!  “After I finished the application, I had to wait a couple of weeks to see if I even got an interview,” recalls Ashlyn. “Once I got the first interview, I had to wait again for a second, which was a 45-minute interview with other candidates. It was a long process!”

Both Fleur and Ashlyn commented that it was a little nerve-wracking, yet rewarding. 

“There was one interview we had that required us to be in a group with other candidates,” remembers Fleur. “I was nervous at first, but once I got out of my head, it was great to listen to others’ experiences and hear their stories.”

And good news was on the horizon for Fleur and Ashlyn! A few weeks after their last interview, both of them were together when they received the notification that they were both accepted to the Board! 

“We were so excited and so relieved!,” says Ashlyn.

The Board has gained two extremely qualified students. Fleur is the president of APH’s Equality Committee (EC) and Ashlyn, the Vice President. EC is a diverse group of students advocating for racial inclusion. 

Participating on this board is rich with opportunity for these students. Over an 18-month period, both will meet with their co-board members and receive extensive leadership training and collaborate on activities, projects, and events that will reduce the risk of violence in local communities. Both remarked how excited they were to begin having deeper conversations on racial identity and listening to the experiences that shaped their peers lives. 

“When people just hear statistics, there’s no effect. It’s just a bunch of numbers. But listening to personal experiences help us to better understand what is really going on around us,” said Ashlyn. “It’s important to share what you’ve been through and how you’re overcoming it.”

“At EC, we taught a lot,” says Fleur. “But now, I want to learn. I’m looking forward to hearing from my peers on the Board and learning their stories, especially in regards to racism. It’s so important to hear from others as a reminder that racism is in fact real and affects people in so many different ways. A lot of the time, racism is deliberate and malicious. But sometimes, it occurs in the subconscious and happens because of ignorance on the subject. There is space to educate, forgive and understand. We are all people at the end of the day! You can do something wrong and you can come back from it.” 

We couldn’t be prouder of Ashlyn and Fleur and know that this is just the beginning of greater things to come from them!