Tigard High School junior Aishiki Nag has her eye on science, civics, social justice - and the U.S. Senate.

COURTESY PHOTO - Aishiki Nag, an incoming Tigard High School junior, will sit on the Tigard City Council as a non-voting member for one year, watching and giving her input on city matters. An incoming Tigard High School junior, who would eventually like to enter the political arena, was recently selected as the newest Tigard youth councilor.

Aishiki Nag officially took over her duties July 1, assuming a one-year, non-voting position on the Tigard City Council.

Nag was one of three "highly accomplished" young people interviewed by Tigard Mayor Jason Snider, Council President Heidi Lueb and the most recent Tigard youth councilor, Emilio Calderon, for the position, according to a city news release.

The ex officio position was established by the City Council in 2019.

During a recent interview, Nag said her inaugural council meeting was informative.

"My first meeting was actually super-interesting," Nag said.

Much of the council meeting was taken up by a discussion about how expanding Highway 217 will affect local wetlands along the freeway's route. The council invited members of the public to share their thoughts and concerns about the Oregon Department of Transportation project, which is funded by a 2017 statewide transportation package.

"I would say that there was a pretty heated debate between ODOT and a lot of what the testifiers were saying," Nag remarked.

She also said she had a chance to see how the council members acted as liaisons for to the city's various boards and commissions.

"I'm sure that there's room to grow, and I've already started some data-collecting among my peers to re-evaluate my agenda, but I think it was a fun start," Nag said.

Born in India, Nag came to the United States when she was very young and attended Durham Elementary School and Twality Middle School. At Tigard High, she said history and science (chemistry and biology, specifically) are her strong suits.

For the remainder of her high school career, Nag said she wants to study social justice movements in depth.

One of her goals is to work with civic education groups in Portland and Tigard to help get students registered to vote. She said her objective is to get youth voter registration up to 25-30% at Tigard High School, she said.

While Nag has played soccer for the Tigers earlier in her high school career, she's now focusing much of her free time on a robotics team based in neighboring Lake Oswego, for which she is in charge of fundraising and outreach efforts. One of those endeavors was focused on finding a way to express gratitude for doctors who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When the pandemic first hit, I kind of organized an international 'thank you' notes campaign, and I ended up getting 800 digital notes that I ended up hand-writing and delivering to hospitals," she said, noting that the transcription part of it took several weeks. "But I think it was worth it in the end."

Nag estimates she delivered 100 to 150 different notes on index cards to eight or nine hospitals in the Portland metro area, all to cheer up local medical personnel.

In addition, her mother crocheted "ear savers," which doctors can add to their surgical masks, lessening the strain on their ears.

"Honestly, I just have like a ton of respect for the people in the medical field, and it takes a lot of guts, especially during the pandemic," Nag said. "I know they've been working tirelessly to help us ... as a community, to feel better, and they haven't been getting the recognition they truly deserve."

She said the notes were a way to let those doctors know that "people care about you, and you guys definitely deserve better."

Nag also organized a food drive for Hunger Fighters, a Lake Oswego-based nonprofit organization that provides access to nutritious food and provides hygiene items for those I need.

Nag recently participated in Tigard's first Pride Parade, painting a rainbow on the front of her car and adding balloons to it. She added a pride flag and a stuffed animal as well.

For the future, Nag has some ambitious plans.

"I'm currently thinking about going into political science, but I might double-major and also have a major in chemistry or biology," Nag said about her college plans.

She's also interested in going into politics with her ultimate dream to become a U.S. senator, ideally from Oregon.

"I guess I just want to help my community just be better, just do small things, hopefully make it as good as it can be," she said.

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