From left to right, Commonwealth's student council representatives Rihanna and Alex.
Meet Your 2023 Greater Boston Student Advisory Council Representatives

Each year, Commonwealth students elect two of their classmates to the Greater Boston Regional Student Advisory Council, a body providing student input on educational policy decisions that affect the whole of Massachusetts. Juniors Rihanna ’24 and Alex ‘24, who ran on platforms addressing faculty diversity, statewide service, and mental health, were recently chosen as this year's representatives. Keep reading to learn about their plans for the Council and why they're both "believers" in supporting students across the state.

Rihanna ’24

Hometown: Haverhill, Massachusetts

What inspired you to run for the Council?

I wanted to have some sort of leadership position, and I really enjoy public speaking. These kinds of positions often challenge your public-speaking skills. I also enjoy debate, but I wanted to find a real-world application for it—one where you're actually having conversations with people to solve problems and do something rather than just win the argument for the sake of winning it.  

What are you hoping to advocate for in the upcoming year?

I have a passion for mental-health awareness and diversity, and I was trying to find something to do with those things, and then this opportunity arose. When it comes to diversity, Massachusetts schools have a lot of white faculty in disproportion to the ratio of white students and students of color, which is something I've experienced—it's kind of off-putting sometimes when you walk into a classroom and nobody looks like you. So I wanted to add my perspective on what can be done for students in situations like that. 

When it comes to mental health, one of the biggest problems that I personally see and have experienced in the education system is that it's not necessarily that there aren't resources—which is a separate problem. It's that people don't know when they need those resources and just assume that what they're experiencing is normal and healthy when it's not. Or they assume that it's not something people can help with when it is. 

Related: Learn more about Rihanna

What should Commonwealth students know about your role?

This position works with the Board of Education, which mainly supervises public schools, so a lot of the things that happen or are talked about aren't going to directly pertain to us [at Commonwealth]. The changes that I would like to be made would be mostly impactful for public schools, which is good, because we already have a lot of supports at Commonwealth.

What should your fellow Council members know about you?

I'm willing to work with them on whatever issue they think needs to have attention placed on it. I'm not trying to be the end-all be-all authority. I have ideas and issues that I'm passionate about, but I'm willing to work with you in order to see problems get solutions. I'm not here to say that my way is the only way. 

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

"Believer" by Imagine Dragons. It's consistently stuck in my head—there must be something special about it. 

Alex ’24

Hometown: Sharon, Massachusetts

What inspired you to run for the Council?

It all started in my middle school in Southern California. I went to a brand-new middle school there, and I was in the very first class of sixth graders, so we had nobody older than us. That's where I met a lot of my close friends for the next few years, and I really grew in that community, because everybody was new. Everyone was starting from the same spot. I ran for student council there, and I won. I was really active in that community for those three years, and then moved out here after my freshman year. 

Last year, I also ran for the Council [in Massachusetts]—same position, didn't win. But I always thought it was interesting that Massachusetts had the ability to incorporate how students are feeling with their policy. It's real government that students [on the Council] are getting involved with, and they have the ability to make a difference. It's a step higher than any other student council position I've been able to run for before, and I think it's a really great opportunity to represent how everyone feels right here.

What are you hoping to advocate for in the upcoming year?

I want to make sure everyone's healthy around here and feeling good. There's small issues that you see day-to-day; nobody wants to come into a school feeling tired or like not their best self. Being able to help the community and help everybody reach their potential without any limitations is my biggest thing. 

We're really lucky to go to school in a city—we're able to see so much happening around us, walk around, get lunch...but there are also other sides of the city where people need help. This ability to volunteer and help others is something that I think Commonwealth does a good job with; I want to spread that across the state and increase the opportunities that students have to volunteer. It's sometimes hard for students—when I was a freshman and sophomore, I felt limited in what I could do in the community. Being able to offer students opportunities to volunteer and meet new people volunteering is really important. 

Related: Learn how Alex co-founded the Commonwealth Food Initiative

What should Commonwealth students know about your role?

I'm here for everybody. I'm running off of my beliefs, but they're very flexible. This isn't a political position; it's just me trying to help the community that I'm in and represent it. Being able to build connections to other schools is really important, too. I want to hear everybody's ideas and beliefs. 

What should your fellow Council members know about you?

I've been to public schools, I've been across the country, I've been to Commonwealth—all these different situations—and I want to use my experiences to connect with people. Having this connection would really help the flow of the council, and overall productivity would increase with those relationships. 

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

I'm gonna be really basic: "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. I think it's important to never stop believing and continuously fight for what you believe in and hope for the best. I want to get things done on this council, and I think everyone wants to, so we're never going to stop believing in what we can do and fighting for what we can do to help the community.


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