Rachel Dikwa-Nkrumah has a list.
It includes things like training teachers to be better at intervening when they see bullying, having high schools focus more on college readiness and an increased celebration of diversity in schools.
As a member of the first statewide student advisory council, the InTech senior will work with other students and state school board members to address issues like the ones on her list.
“A lot of times as a student, you feel like there’s only so much you can tell your teachers without them feeling like you’re complaining,” Dikwa-Nkrumah said. “But when it’s another student, you know that they understand.”
Throughout her school years, Dikwa-Nkrumah has served in multiple student council positions. It’s important to her to help her peers by bridging the gap between students and teachers.
“To be doing that on a much larger scale,” Dikwa-Nkrumah said, “that makes me super excited and happy.”
As a daughter of immigrants, Dikwa-Nkrumah is a first-generation student in the United States. She said she has been bullied for her differences and has listened to similar stories from other minority students.
In her role on the council, she wants to help all students on the margins, no matter what their differences are.
This desire is something that really stood out on Dikwa-Nkrumah’s application, said Jeffrey Van Hulten, the policy adviser for the state board.
“She overall just wanted to be a champion of all the students who tend to be left behind and forgotten,” Van Hulten said. “She wasn’t just concerned about one group, but she was concerned collectively about the whole.”
Van Hulten drafted the policy that created the student advisory council earlier this year. Council members were selected on an application basis and include a mix of juniors and seniors from around the state. Van Hulten said the board made an effort to select students that represent a variety of demographics and educational experiences.
The students will meet every other month during the school year to discuss what issues they feel face Utah students and make policy recommendations to the board. Van Hulten said some areas the board wants specific feedback on are mental health resources for students and suicide prevention.
Some of Dikwa-Nkrumah’s teachers said she will bring an attitude of “nothing is impossible” to the council.
“Once she puts her mind to something, there is no stopping her,” said Dikwa-Nkrumah’s leadership teacher, Jens C.K. Trauntvein. “That’s who she is.”
Dikwa-Nkrumah’s history and social studies teacher David Stull said she is one of the few students he knows he can go to for an honest evaluation of situations.
“I learn from her,” Stull said. “She has definite opinions, but they’re learned opinions.”
Trauntvein said this comes from her willingness to talk to others and learn about their views.
“It’s not just she’s stuck in her idea of it,” Trauntvein said, “which is uncommon for someone her age.”
Dikwa-Nkrumah is excited for the opportunities ahead of her as she serves on the council.
When she looks at the position, she sees it as being about more than education. It’s a way she can celebrate how far society has come on issues like racism but also push for continued improvement.
“There is a lot farther that we can go,” Dikwa-Nkrumah said. “We can definitely set ourselves to a higher standard of what we can expect of ourselves.”