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Students TEAL Their Stories

Posted Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

By: Vidya Achar

As part of State of the Students’ mission to boost youth civic engagement, we will be partnering with Project TEAL to host a foreign policy literacy event called “Students TEAL Their Stories” on April 2nd at 1PM PST/4PM EST. Project TEAL is a student-led organization that aims to revitalize our democracy through education and advocacy. The collaboration event will include a crash course, which will cover what foreign policy is, global government agencies, and how foreign policy affects different countries across the globe. We will hear from California Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, who sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and served as an Electoral Specialist for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Her experience includes serving in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in the U.S. Department of State, where she focused on conflict prevention and response, countering and preventing violent extremism. In addition to our keynote speaker Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, this event  will include four student panelists: Saron Tefera, Paul Kramer, Caroline Gao and Preeti Kulkarni. 


Born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, Saron moved to the United States in 2010. She is currently a senior in high school and is the student body president, a co-founder of her school’s Diversity Club and a member of many other clubs. Saron hopes to one day work for the United Nations and will be studying economics and global affairs at Yale University beginning in the fall. 


Paul Kramer, a High School Junior currently serves the Institute for Youth in Policy as Executive Director. Prior to founding and running the Institute, Kramer served in numerous senior leadership positions across party lines - notably as Deputy Campaign Director with the Libertarian presidential campaign and Senior Field Manager with a Democratic congressional campaign. As Kramer served in these positions, he was also active on social media, where he connected tens of millions of viewers to politics utilizing a neoteric policy lens. He thoroughly enjoys applying his analytical skills and exploring solutions to complex issues at hand.


Caroline Gao is the founder and executive director of The World in Us, a cultural awareness nonprofit, and a co-founder of Aster Lit, an international youth literary magazine. She has studied abroad in Korea through the US State Department’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth, participated in the International Writing Project’s Between the Lines cultural exchange program, and studied International Relations through the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Gao also serves as the Youth Governor of Oregon and served as a 2022 delegate to the US Senate Youth Program.


Preeti Kulkarni was part of the Montgomery County Junior Council as a Director of

Academic Affairs, where she got to lead various projects to benefit students across the county.

As the Director of School Culture for the SMOB Advisory Council, Kulkarni has conveyed the

concerns of middle schoolers and high schoolers across the county to the Student Member of

the Board (SMOB) on a regular basis. She currently works with another nonprofit, Dweebs

Global, as a mentor. Kulkarni is a junior at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington, MD, where she is an active part of the Social Justice Committee, a program designed to engrain social action and a desire for change in the Holy Cross community, as a member. She hopes to major in Political Science with a minor in Business or a major in International Business.


Register to ask the panelists a question, go to We hope to see you at our State of the Students x Project TEAL event “Students TEAL Their Stories” on April 2nd at 1PM PST/4PM EST.

State of the Students Speaks: Midterms

Posted Thursday, March 24th, 2022

By: Vidya Achar

Midterm elections will be held this year on Tuesday November 8th, with all 435 House of Representatives seats and 34 Senate seats on the ballot. Additionally, there will be a special election on the same date to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ former Senate seat. Democrats currently have a 222 - 211 majority in the House and are split 50-50 in the Senate, with Democratic Harris breaking tied votes. Forty-two incumbent House members, who represent 23 individual states, will not be seeking reelection this November along with 6 sitting senators, 5 of whom are Republicans and 1 who is  Democrat. 


The outcome of these midterm elections can inform us about the viability of President Biden and former President Donald Trump’s potential 2024 presidential campaigns as well as gauge the public’s opinion of President Biden’s first two years in office. 


The eight battleground states– states whose races are toss-ups, lean, or likely Democrat or Republican according to Inside Elections, a non-partisan newsletter covering U.S. House, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns, Presidential politics, and political developments– are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The victors of these elections will be reviewing legislation regarding national mask mandates, rising gas prices and economic sanctions, which is why voting in this election if you are eligible is especially important. 


To vote in the 2022 midterms, you must be 18 years old by election day in all states. You must also be registered to vote in your state before the deadline, unless you live in North Dakota. Forty-two states allow online registration through the government-funded site and all allow registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Your state may send you a voter registration card containing the address of your local polling office, but a quick Google search of polling offices near you can point you in the right direction. Thirty-six states require you to bring some form of voter ID, so it is important to check your state’s website for more information. After you have gone to your polling place and filled out a ballot, your voter status will stay on record unless you consistently stop voting, in which case you may be marked as an inactive voter and stop receiving ballots in the mail. However, voting is the quickest way to restore you back to active voter status, avoid being purged from the voting rolls, and be civically engaged in our democracy.

Partnerships Manager

What Our Team Has Done in 2021

Posted  Sunday, February 20th, 2022

By: Vidya Achar

From an insurrection in January to the rise of Omicron in December, 2021 was a year marked by tragedies and new challenges. Through the darkness of an ongoing pandemic and a polarizing presidential inauguration, our team persevered to inform young people about the challenges our country faces and encourage youth civic engagement. Here’s a look back at what we accomplished in 2021.


New Executive and Advisory Board– 

Former Co-Executive Directors, Leora Soibelman and Emily Willrich, passed the torch July 2021 to the new Co-Executive Directors, Alejandra Lopez Nestor and Trisha Shenoy. Soibelman and Willrich take their places, along with Former Development Director, Tal Yahalom, and Former Operations Director, Emma Larson, on the newly-formed advisory board which meets once a month with the executive board, providing guidance for the success of State of the Students. The new Co-Executive Directors are joined by Communications Director, Andres Martinez, Development Director, Karina Haddad, and Director of Operations, Lauren Hightower. Additionally, Administrative positions on our executive board were announced on Feb. 2, 2022. 


Joining us as a new Chapter Liaison are Weston Hamilton, who will work with the Operations Director, Lauren Hightower, to meet with established chapters and aid in the expansion of State of the Students. 


Content Strategist, Vidya Achar, will work with Co-Executive Director, Alejandra Lopez Nestor, and Communications Director, Andres Martinez, to manage and maintain the State of the Students blog and write newsletter content. 


Partnerships Manager, Leon Huang, will work with Development Director, Karina Haddad, to communicate with partner organizations, maintain good relations during collaborations and find new partners that align with our mission. 


As the new Community manager, Tola Aluko will work with Co-Executive Director, Trisha Shenoy, to strategize the best methods of communication and respond to inquiries on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. 


Grant Writer, Mohammad Al Saber, will be working with Development Director, Karina Haddad, and oversee the organization’s fundraising activities and prepare grant applications and proposals.


Chapter expansion and opportunities-

State of the Students has expanded to create new chapters in Wisconsin and New Hampshire. Along with expansion, State of the Students has released a journalism fellowship program in California. The fellowship aims to have each writer publish an article on the website every month. Writers will pitch a topic they are passionate about and editors will review their work before publishing. To learn more about and apply for a chance to spread political awareness through journalism, read the State of the Students Medium article describing the fellowship’s requirements.


In December 2021, our Alabama chapter visited the state capital in Montgomery to learn about their state government. The team spoke to a few politicians and toured the capitol building. 


Pizza & Politics– a video series in which current and former government officials engage in a conversation about their job, public service, and politics in a larger sense with student interviewers.

In January, our team interviewed David Kim, who is running to represent California’s 34th district. In a virtual installment of Pizza & Politics in 2021, he spoke about being the son of undocumented parents, the treatment of DACA recipients, and raising his congressional district out of poverty. Suraj Patel, for New York’s 12th district, talked to our team about reallocating resources used for surveillance and policing to create economic opportunities for people of color. Senator Janet Bewley of Wisconsin, interviewed in May, echoed Patel’s sentiments of making sure people in power used their influence to help the broader community. 


Our team published 69 episodes of Pizza and Politics in 2021. Here is a full list of our interviews:


January 2021- Representative Mark Spreitzer (WI), David Kim (CA), Liam O’Mara (CA), MJ Hegar (TX),  Congressional Candidate Lulu Seikaly (TX), Dr. Cameron Webb (VA), Representative Rob Wittman (VA), Lisa Ring (GA), Liuba Grechen Shirley (NY), Tedra Cobb (NY), Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou (NY), Suraj Patel (NY), Former U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas (MA), Dan Feehan (MN), Congressman Joe Sestak (PA), Mia Mason (MD), Hank Linderman (KY)


February 2021- Shahid Buttar (CA), Secretary of State Doug La Follette (WI), Brynne Kennedy (CA), Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (CA), Senator Dave Cortese (CA), Mayor Walt Maddox (AL), Dr. Scott Harris (AL), Kathryn Garcia (NY), Zach Iscol (NY), Congressman Jake Auchincloss (MA), Kevin O’Connor (MA), State Representative Michelle Ciccolo (MA), Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman (PA), Mayor Brian Traugott (KY), Senator Adrienne Southworth (KY), Former House District Representative Joe Graviss (KY)


March 2021- Shervin Aazami (CA), Kenneth Mejia (CA), Rep Francesca Hong (WI), Daniel Gade (VA), Qasim Rashid (VA), City Councilor Nordyke (OR), Representative Rob Nosse (OR), Representative Kim Wallan (OR), City Councilor Nadia Hasan (OR), Mayoral Candidate Annissa Essaibi George (MA), Mayoral Candidate Michelle Wu (MA), Mayor Grayson Vandegrift (KY)


April 2021- Rep Marisabel Cabrera (WI), Rep David Bowen (WI), Senator Lena Taylor (WI), Congressman Mark Pocan (WI), Representative Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Angelica Dueñas (CA), Senator Scott Weiner (CA), Representative Wlnsvey Campos (OR), Mayor Lacet Beaty (OR), House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (OR), State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg (MA), Councilman Vinnie Testa (CT), Senator Will Haskell (CT), Congresswoman Eleanor Norton (MD)


May 2021- Senator Janet Bewley (WI), Congressman Ted Lieu (CA), Assemblywoman Laurie Davies (CA), Council Member Amourence Lee (CA), Congresswoman Norma Torres (CA), Judy Chu (CA), Congressman Mark Takano (CA), Delegate Kathy Tran (VA), Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones (OR), Portland Commissioner Hardesty (OR)


June 2021- Senator Ben Hueso (CA), Garry Hubbard (VA), Nikema Williams (GA)


July 2021 - Jeff Staples (VA), Royce Mann (GA), Representative Esther Agbaje (MN)


October 2021 - Basil Segos (NY)


Monthly Newsletters– Starting December 2021, our team has been committed to releasing monthly newsletters which contain important information about our goals, projects and new collaborations!


Engagement– State of the Students has reached around 200,000 people across all of our social media platforms (not including chapter individual social media). From Facebook and Twitter to Linkedin and Youtube, our organization is more active than ever! Follow our social media:

Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram: @stateofthestudents

Twitter: @Studentsstate



Stay tuned for more Pizza & Politics episodes, a new series and more exciting projects in 2022.

Where Have We Been?

A Quick Fall Update

Posted  Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

You may have noticed that we’ve been rather quiet this summer—that’s because we’ve been hard at work expanding State of the Students across the country! 


To date, we’ve opened SOTS chapters in 17 different states: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. Check out these new chapters and see how to start your own on our join page.


We’re so excited to see all the amazing work that will come out of these new chapters. Stay tuned to see new Pizza & Politics episodes, Get to Know Your Government events, and more. In the meantime, watch our newly released Pizza & Politics with Congresswoman Katherine Clark, and follow our Instagram for more opportunities. 


All the best,

SOTS Executive Team


What Our Team Has Done in 2020

Posted  Sunday, June 28th, 2020

2020 has already left an indelible mark on our nation. The beginning of January saw the rise of the COVID-19 crisis, a global pandemic that has wrought over two million confirmed cases in the US. As the unjust police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade came to light, the existence of a much more insidious underlying pandemic—the pervasive anti-Blackness and the systemic oppression of the Black body in our nation—emerged into the public consciousness. As people in America began to demand justice, Zoomers were there as well: attending protests, signing petitions, donating to bail funds, and mutual aid organizations. It is clear that now, more than ever, we need young people to be informed and to get involved. Here’s what our team has been working on this year to facilitate and encourage youth civic engagement:


Pizza & Politics with Dave Cavell—On New Year’s Day, we dropped the second installment of the series Pizza & Politics, with an exciting interview of Congressional candidate (MA-04) and former Obama speechwriter Dave Cavell. Our team asked Cavell about his experience in the Obama administration, why he is running for the seat in Massachusetts’s fourth district, and his love for applesauce. Featuring a cameo of Cavell’s adorable dog!


Pizza & Politics with Congresswoman Lori Trahan—Later that month, our team met in her office to interview Congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-03). In this deep dive into the workings of the bureaucracy, Congresswoman Trahan spoke about the importance of the US Census, how constituent services work, and why she chose to go into public service. 


Pizza & Politics with Senator Ed Markey—In our most controversial installment of Pizza & Politics yet, Senator Ed Markey declared his love for pineapple pizza. He also spoke about the public’s cynicism about the political sphere, how his personal experience led to his Alzheimer’s advocacy, and why young people should engage more in politics. 


Pizza & Politics with Warren Staffer Darien Johnson—Our team interviewed the regional director of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Boston office, Darien Johnson, about his experience working for a high-profile senator. Johnson spoke about how his education in homeland security informed his career choices, the housing crisis Massachusetts is facing, and the time he got a call from Senator Warren.


April Get to Know Your Government—The outbreak of coronavirus in the nation necessitated a push towards digital learning for students everywhere, including for us! On April 15th, a month after the initial shutdown of the state, we hosted a Zoom town hall with Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), state Rep. Hannah Kane, state Rep. Andy Vargas, and state Senator Anne Gobi. The panelists shared their thoughts on the government response to the pandemic and how their offices have adapted to digital constituent services. 


Pizza & Politics with Jesse Mermell—The race for the open seat in Massachusetts’s fourth congressional district is hotly contested. Our team interviewed former Brookline Select Board member Jesse Mermell, learning about how her grandmother’s military service inspired her interest in politics, her time in the governor’s office (which she describes as like “drinking four fire hoses at once”), and her candidacy for the open Congressional seat in MA-04. 


May Get to Know Your Government—In our third edition of Get to Know Your Government, our team invited Congressman Stephen Lynch (MA-08), state Rep. Tram Nguyen, state Senator Patricia D. Jehlen, and state Senator Joan Lovely to speak. The virtual town hall discussed coronavirus legislation, what elected officials are doing for their communities, and, as ever, the role young people have to play in politics. 

by Kelly Hui, Communications Director


Posted  Saturday, April 11th, 2020

State of the Students is having our first virtual Get to Know Your Government on April 15th at 5 PM ET! Students across the US are welcome to attend.

Here is the event description: 

Have you ever watched the news and been like "what is going on"? Do you feel confused about what government actually does and how it affects you? Do you wonder about the difference between state, local, and federal government? Then come join our virtual Get to Know Your Government to have these questions answered from elected officials themselves!


Our panelists include Congressman Jim McGovern, Rep Hannah Kane, Rep Andy Vargas, and more.


Hope to see you there!

Leora Soibelman

Co-Executive Director


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Posted  Sunday, December 1st, 2019

Have you seen our first video for Pizza and Politics with Congressman Joe Kennedy?!?! If not, go watch it right now. It's cool (and informative), I promise. We had so much fun chatting about congress & the importance of government in student lives-- and of course, enjoying some great pizza.

Stay tuned for more pizza (and politics)!

All the best as always,





Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2019

This Monday, State of the Students held our first ever event- and it was incredible! From the amazing panelists to the equally amazing student questions, it was a truly fantastic hour. We were honored to be joined by Congressman Kennedy, Representative Alice Peisch, Senator Becca Rausch, Assistant AG Mary Strother, and Regional Director for Senator Warren, Darien Johnson. Thanks to all who came and engaged!


Much to come :)


Stay tuned,




First Event on April 8th!

Posted Sunday, March 23, 2019

That's right! State of the Students is having our first event on April 8th, called Get To Know Your Government: A Dialogue Between Students and Elected Officials. It will be at Wellesley High School from 11-12!

Here is the event description: 

Have you ever watched the news and been like "what is going on"? Do you feel confused about what government actually does? Do you wonder about the difference between state, local, and federal government? Then come to Wellesley High School on April 8th from 11-12 to have these questions answered from elected officials themselves! This is an event made by high schoolers for high schoolers and is the first of its kind from State of the Students. Hear from Congressman Kennedy, Representative Alice Peisch, Senator Becca Rausch, and Assistant Attorney General Mary Strother and ask them your own questions about what they do. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at


You can RSVP (right now!) here:

Hope to see you there!


State of the Students Executive Director


Copy of Bridging the gap_ a dialogue bet
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