Felipe Garcia ‘23 strives to make a difference in the world. He is passionate about government and mental health and decided to combine those two passions when he got involved in the Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission. Felipe proves that you are never too young or too old to raise awareness and make a difference. On October 17, Felipe spoke at the Arizona State Capitol as part of his work on behalf of the commission. At the State Capitol, he presented key findings from his youth mental health research to the Teen Mental Health House Ad Hoc Committee. Salpointe Catholic interviewed him to learn about this endeavor:
How did you initially get involved in the Arizona Governor's Youth Commission?
Like most things, it started with an email. My dad forwarded the email to me and I decided to apply on a whim. As time passed, I became more and more interested in the opportunities it would bring.
Why is mental health in teens so important?
I am glad that we are beginning to have a conversation about teen mental health- and mental health as a whole right now. Oftentimes we wait to take action until after a tragedy has occurred but the importance of mental health cognizance is prevention. Having adequate support infrastructure in place can prevent greater issues of substance abuse, drop-out rates, and in some cases mortality. Mental health encompasses many different factors that ultimately affect the well-being of a populace. Especially today, when teens are facing unprecedented challenges. Whether it be the lingering effects of the COVID pandemic or pressure from the digital sphere. On top of other existing factors such as generational trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and the normal stress of growing up. It's an ever-changing world in a time when we (teens) are growing. Mental health ties many of these factors together.
What was the primary focus of your presentation?
The primary focus of the presentation was the data and recommendations authored by the Governor’s Youth Commission for the 2020-2022 terms. I covered topics such as student confidence in their support infrastructure, government campaign effectiveness, and youth viewpoints on various subjects.
What cause is most near and dear to you and why (domestic violence, distracted driving, mental health, etc.)?
I would be biased in answering mental health, but truthfully it is something that is near and dear to me. I remember at the start of the pandemic, a friend had reached out to me for help. At that time, I wasn’t sure what to do, but it inspired me to explore this subject further. Every day, there is always a reminder to have these important conversations now. It is not a partisan issue, but rather a human one.
What is your favorite thing about being a Lancer?
My favorite thing about being a Lancer is the community. I love to walk the halls and say hi to everyone I know. I love to be a part of the student section and cheer on my classmates.
What type of career are you hoping to go into after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to get into public service. Whether that be through local government or at the federal level.
Any other comments you would like included about this amazing accomplishment?
At the end of the day, the purpose is to serve others. If everyone helped their community for the sake of their college applications, where would we be? I highly encourage everyone to find service opportunities in fields they are passionate about. It makes all the difference.