Fifty nine percent of younger generations say they can influence their local governments, according to a study done by Yale University. Senior Shadeh Okoudjou is certainly a part of this percentage.
Okoudjou volunteers at A Better Brookline (ABB), a campaign working to turn Brookline into a city. The organization is attempting to get a charter commission, which will ask if representatives could be sent to Brookline to evaluate it and gauge the need for an elected official. Okoudjou said she has been working hard toward this goal for a long time.
“I’ll feel accomplished if we get the charter and if we get the question in the 2022 ballot. I think activism is just really fighting for what you believe in,” Okoudjou said.
ABB is completely student-run, with Okoudjou as a co-director. She joined the organization during the COVID-19 pandemic and so far has volunteered and helped canvas during the election. Okoudjou was assigned the role of co-director this summer.
“I realized that there was a lot of planning that went into those events that we had held on the weekend and getting in touch with people.”
Rayna Rose, a friend of Okoudjou and the volunteer manager for ABB, senior Rayna Rose, said she is impressed with Okoudjou’s passion and hard work as co-director.
“She’s been doing a great job. She’s been working on building community and having door-knocking events. She’s played a really big role in ABB and having it gain momentum and move forward,” Rose said.
Okoudjou also pushes change in Brookline through her work with racial justice. Driven by her strong work ethic, she worked on the Asking for Courage Day in the 2020-21 school year and interviewed Dr. Tamarra James-Todd, a leading figure in racial equity.
Elizabeth Crane, Okoudjou’s biology teacher, said she was impressed with all of the racial justice work Okoudjou does and with her conversation with Dr. James-Todd.
“Shadeh did a really phenomenal job with the interview and is incredibly poised. She doesn’t want the spotlight unnecessarily, but when she has a position of leadership, I think people will listen to her because she is so organized and articulate,” Crane said.
Outside of ABB, Crane said that Okoudjou is a hard-working, strong student who knows when it is the right time to persevere on her own and when to reach out for help.
“She recognizes that asking a question or asking for help is a sign of strength. She’s great about seeing me for help outside of class when she needs it or asking questions in class and answering other people’s questions,” Crane said.
Okoudjou said she believes activism can be done in a lot of ways, and she herself is trying to improve the lives of people by including everyone in her work at ABB and in racial equity.
“Activism can be whatever you really see fit for your cause,” Okoudjou said.