Local teen takes political passion to Capitol
While many high-schoolers couldn't care less about politics, Derek Evans has been studying for a career as a politician since the eighth grade.
"There was no one running for the high school representative position, so I took it as an opportunity to run unopposed and represent my middle school at the high school," Evans said of his middle school motivation. "It kind of was an addiction that grew from there."
Evans has been a member of his student council ever since, and in 2016 he decided to take his passion to the State Capitol and participate in the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC).
Evans is the first and only student from Sandy to represent his school in the association. Through its Capitol Ambassadors program, he has not only found encouragement and ideas to help his student body, but a possible career path.
This past year, Evans actually ran to be president of OASC and was voted into the top three. He didn't win, but is now one of three at-large representatives of the program for the state.
"I'll take any opportunity to help with OASC that I can," Evans noted.
With Capitol Ambassadors, Evans has the opportunity to meet other active student representatives like himself, be a page in the state Legislature and interview legislators if he wants to.
At the local level as a member of the Sandy High School student council, Evans has advocated for a better education plan for students with special needs. A poll conducted by Evans and his peers last year showed that 93 percent of the 1,700-person student body was not satisfied with how special needs students were treated and felt they missed out on opportunities afforded to others.
Evans also led the "Smile" project as a sophomore, an effort to improve spirit and the environment of the high school. He and his fellow school reps posted notes of positivity on bathroom mirrors and hung fliers encouraging people to see their own worth.
This year, as an at-large representative for OASC, Evans is focused on helping create more opportunities for high school students to earn college credit through dual enrollment.
Evans himself takes Mt. Hood Community College classes through Sandy High, but recognizes not every high school has that kind of program or relationship with a local college.
Evans' program adviser is a college student, and he mentors Evans and fosters his development as a political actor.
From that relationship, Evans said, "I can see myself in his shoes, going to Stanford, leading this program."
"Especially in today's world, it's important to know what's going on," he adds. "(This program has) kind of helped to prepare me for the future. It helps you find your footing kind of to get where you want to go."
While he's still in high school, Evans is looking to rise in the ranks by becoming his associated student body president as a senior next year and continuing to represent Sandy High's students before launching into the larger world of college.