“All of a sudden, politics wasn’t tedious or pretentious — it was about real issues affecting our communities and our lives.”
We are so grateful for our Publicity and Outreach Intern Maya Thakur, who has been invigorating our social-media presence this summer. Below, Maya shares her thoughts on the role of social media in justice movements and how caregivers can support youth engagement.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an incoming sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, where I’m majoring in sociology and government. I’ve worked with the DFW World Affairs Council, the National Juvenile Justice Network, the Progressive Turnout Project, and the Minaret Foundation as well as the Parents’ Climate Community, and I’m hoping to continue exploring different spheres of public policy and activism as I work towards my degree.
How did you first get excited about political science and social justice?
I can’t pinpoint a specific moment, but I remember starting to become aware in the months leading up to the 2016 election. All of a sudden, politics wasn’t tedious or pretentious — it was about real issues affecting our communities and our lives.
Who along the way has supported your passion for civic leadership?
My family has been there for me every step of the way, and my teachers have supported me for as long as I can remember. I wouldn’t be who I am today without any of them.
How can parents and adult allies support youth around civic engagement and/or climate action?
My number one piece of advice is to support kids’ passions — whether that’s science, politics, sports, the arts, or anything in between. Everyone creates change in their own way, whether that’s by researching the climate, designing new technologies, leading protests, writing poetry, painting murals, or advocating on social media.
In terms of specific policies, I’d advocate for making political engagement more accessible to young people in your community — initiatives like online and same-day voter registration, on-campus voter registration drives and vote centers, and simplifying and protecting access to mail-in ballots. Second, I’d advocate for stronger civic and scientific education — expanding access to courses in environmental science and local, state, national, and international government, as well as higher pay and more support for educators.
You have already had considerable experience with social-media management. Based on your experience, can you give us an example of the power of social media to raise awareness, drive change, or to bring communities together?
Social media is such a powerful tool for activism, especially for reaching younger audiences. For first time voters, the process — from registering to vote, to requesting a mail-in ballot, to learning about the candidates — can be daunting and overwhelming. There are dozens of little things you need to know — the deadline to register, the address to mail your paperwork, the dates and locations to vote, what you need to have on hand — before you even begin learning about the candidates and deciding who to support. Social media can simplify the entire process and make it easier to navigate.