Meet Your Massachusetts Student Advisory Council Representatives

Each year, Commonwealth students elect up to two of their classmates to be their voice on the Massachusetts Student Advisory Council, a body helping to guide educational policy decisions that affect the entire state. This year's Commonwealth representatives, Bianca ’25 and Romen ’23, ran on platforms addressing timely issues such as COVID-19, gender equity, and mental health. Keep reading to meet them and learn about their plans for the Council this fall. 

Bianca ’25

Hometown: Newton, Massachusetts

What inspired you to run for the Council?

What made me really interested was being able to collaborate with other students from other schools, because going to Commonwealth is a really different experience from going to public school—and I've experienced public school, so I know it's true. Having the opportunity to make change that doesn't only affect Commonwealth but all students is what really made me want to join the Council. 

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

I definitely want to advocate for closing the gender gap in computer science (CS). I've taken a lot of my CS classes since fifth grade, and every single time, I'm the only girl or or maybe one of two girls versus a lot more boys. I realized that this is not a funding issue—it's something that has to do with mindset and how we see CS in general. Looking at the media, I always see men doing CS. I feel like for young girls, that's a big reason why they think "I can't do that. That's not me. I don't see myself in that area of STEM." And I really want to change that.

What should Commonwealth students know about your role?

I want them to know that I will be representing their voices and their opinions. I know there are other girls in CS classes who feel the same way I do, and I definitely want to incorporate their ideas and how they want to solve this issue into what I present to the Council. My changes will—well, hopefully!—be reflected across all schools, including Commonwealth. And I hope that means more girls joining CS classes in the years to come.

What should your fellow Council members know about you?

I want them to know that even though I go to an independent school, and the majority of them do not, I'm the same as them. We are all just young people who want to make a change, and we can hopefully collaborate, communicate, and work together to solve the issues that arise in a lot of public and private schools. I really want to work with other students and to hear their opinions on the issues. 

What's your hidden talent?

I'm right-handed, but I can write with my left hand! 

Romen ’23

Hometown: Needham, Massachusetts

What inspired you to run for the Council?

Originally, I ran in my freshman year. I didn't know much about it at the time. It seemed like a government organization that might fit me, because I have an interest in education policy. I thought, "I might want to go down this road." I lost that election, and I decided not to run sophomore year, but when junior year came up, I thought, "I've learned a lot about the state in two years. I have things that I care about that I want to advocate for. There are things we can talk about that are important to me and are important, I think, to many people across the state." 

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

The first point of my platform is opposition to government mandates [as an extension of COVID-19 policy] and support for freedom of speech and religion. It's hard to push for legislation or government action on those fronts, especially on a more conservative platform of limited government—protections already exist, and things would get a little bit vague.

Mental health support and resources, my second point, are critical and already a big issue for the Student Council. Vivian [Class of 2022, Commonwealth's last Council representative] worked on mental health projects and committees. Following up on her work means ensuring access so that everyone, including students in rural and low-income communities, has mental health resources to go to. 

And the last part of my platform, which I hold probably most passionately, is sexual harassment prevention. I think it's an issue that hasn't been addressed well enough. The Student Council should be doing more. We first have to take similar steps [as improving mental health care] in increasing resources and accessibility. A reasonable project would be some sort of study on people's experiences. Surveys on this issue in our schools would be compelling when testifying before more powerful bodies of the Massachusetts government. I'm also in favor of tougher penalties and punishments; it's important that we enact policy with deterrents, strictness, and toughness. I think that message resonates with people who care about the issue and, politically, isn't toxic.

What should Commonwealth students know about your role?

The changes I propose probably will not apply to Commonwealth too much. We have a mental health support system that is capable for a school of 150: we have a psychologist, a Dean of Students, counselors, teachers who have close relationships with students, and the advisor system. That sort of access is not available to everyone in this state.

Ensuring that students don't get left out and have someone to go to at their school is absolutely critical, especially in communities with more mental health stigma and fewer resources. With sexual harassment, similar issues apply, especially in large schools. It's imperative that we broaden the resources students have across the state so they look more like Commonwealth's. 

What should your fellow Council members know about you?

I will oppose things I don't agree with, and I do have a tendency to to speak my mind on issues. Oftentimes, I'm in a political minority; I hold beliefs that, while I would not consider them conservative, they could be seen as center-right. When you have a proposal that I think is not in the interests of the state, I would view it as my duty to talk about it and to at least provide a dissenting voice. I would try to swing people to oppose proposals that I think would cause problems for our citizens.

What's your hidden talent?

I'm able to shift between my traditional, jovial, upbeat mood and my serious, opinionated, passionate care for the issues. I can go from joking with my friends in a classroom to talking about these hard-pressing issues at a Council meeting quite easily.  

Having that sort of capability is one that I feel I'm blessed with. I'm a fun person, but there are times when we need to get serious. And those times are when people across the state don't have access to the resources they need and when they don't have the ability to report cases of sexual harassment. Getting serious and being a hardliner on those issues is important to me.

Related: Learn More About Romen 

Meet More Commonwealth Students