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Daysa Santana
Youth Development

Daysa’s Story: Raised in the Dominican Republic, Daysa Santana moved to the United States just before entering high school. While moving and entering high school are often difficult experiences for any teenager, Daysa’s transition to Boston English High School was made easy thanks to the school’s bilingual education program. According to Daysa, participating in the bilingual education program provided her with a cohort of friends, supportive educators, and a sense of community—an essential combination for students’ success in schools. Given the positive impact that the program had on Daysa’s transition to high school and the US, she was distraught to learn that, despite its success, the program would no longer be offered to future students. Daysa’s anguish over the end of the bilingual program soon became her motivation to voice her concerns about school policies and practices that are made without the input or perspective of the most important constituent in education: students. In response to the policy change, Daysa and fellow students organized rallies and wrote opinion pieces to protest the end of a program that provided both structural and social support to students from immigrant and non-English speaking backgrounds. Although the program ultimately ended, Daysa’s participation in the student-led movement to shape education fueled her personal and professional mission to empower youth and immigrant families through education, personal development, and community engagement.

Currently, Daysa is a Senior Youth Development Specialist with the Boston Public Health Commission and works to help remove barriers that often interfere with students’ success in school. In addition to her professional role with the Boston Public Health Commission, she is also a member of CPLAN’s youth committee, which was created to ensure that CPLAN lives up to its mission of being collaborative. Through her work on the CPLAN youth committee, Daysa ensures that the youth voice is represented in conversations about education practice and policy within schools. According to Daysa, youth are rarely included in conversations about policies that shape their everyday experiences in schools; however, they are the centerpiece of education reform and policy. Ultimately, Daysa’s goal is to ensure that the movement for education reform foregrounds students’ perspectives and desires for schools.

Expertise/Goals: Youth Development, Educational Advocacy, Truancy Specialist

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