HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A Hanscom Middle School eighth grade student has been accepted to the national iCivics Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship Program earlier this month.
Of the 22 students selected from thousands of applicants, Morgan Gibson was the only middle schooler chosen for the program that offers students from around the country an opportunity to engage in discussions about civics, equity and how the government works.
“I wanted to be able to advocate for equity in education and diversity in the curriculum,” said Gibson, 13. “It’s so important for all students, not just students of color, to be knowledgeable about different cultures and how they’ve influenced our country.”
Gibson was nominated for the year-long fellowship by her social studies teacher, Jay Peledge, who said he felt the program would be a perfect fit for her. Even before she applied, Gibson organized observance month celebrations to help HMS become more culturally aware, Peledge said.
“Morgan is an exceptional human being; she’s a strong advocate for her community and representative of kids who are equity-focused and civic-minded,” said Peledge. “She cares deeply about the issues we’re facing as a nation, so it was important for me to do whatever I could to help get her accepted.”
In addition to a teacher’s nomination, the application included three written essays that included the students’ definition of civic equity.
In previous years, the fellowship program brought the selectees together in Washington D.C. for a kick-off event, and capstone presentations were showcased at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 program will be conducted virtually, but Gibson said she’s excited to work with the other students in any forum.
“I’m looking forward to learning about everyone’s lives and experiences because they’re so different than my own,” said Gibson. “I know I’m going to learn a lot, and hopefully take those lessons with me through life.”
Like her upperclassmen-cohorts, Gibson is already looking toward her college education. She explained she wants to continue studying civic equity, and may pursue an education in law or criminal justice.
“Helping create more inclusive spaces is really important to me, but I think it’s really important for the world,” she said.
Throughout the school year, Gibson will continue to collaborate on civic equity initiatives that she hopes will impact not just her school, but everyone’s school.
“We are all so proud of her and what she’s accomplished already to better our community,” said Peledge. “Every teacher hopes to see their students become like this eventually, but she’s already doing it.”