In his first year at Miami, political science and economics double major Christian Beal has already founded an organization he hopes to see go national. Beal’s group, which he created with his best friend and future Cornell University student Alec Dinwiddie, is called Young People Have a Voice Too (YPHAVT), and was intended to provide a platform for high school students to discuss political issues and formulate solutions to their communities’ specific socioeconomic problems.
YHAVT’s first project is a conference that will be held this July in downtown Chicago. The event will bring together high school students from both the suburbs and inside the city to hear from influential company CEOs and other inspirational speakers.
Zion Kelly, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who lost his brother in the Parkland shooting, will be among them.
Beal, along with fellow Miami student and YHAVT board member Peyton Bondoc, was inspired by the the March for Our Lives protest held after the Parkland shooting.
“The March for Our Lives really inspired me too to say now is the time to have this conference because so many young people are involved, so many young people have ideas, so many young people are at the table to have these conversations with,” Beal said. “We don’t need to wait any longer, we need to put this program out here now.”
Both passionate students who knew they wanted to make a difference from their first day at Miami, roommates Beal and Bondoc have no shortage of opinions on the current political climate.
“We had nights in our dorm room until 3 or 4 in the morning just talking about political issues,” said Bondoc.
Beal decided to bring those conversations to a more constructive setting.
“Throughout our first year we talked about politics in our room so much, but I want to talk about it in an environment where there are other kids in a professional setting with people who actually provide political influence,” he said. “That’s what Young People Have a Voice is all about. It’s bringing the conversations that young people have behind closed doors into the limelight.”
Through conversations with political science professor Matthew Arbuckle and economics professor Gregory Niemesh, Beal got the idea to channel his zeal into formulating YPHAVT.
“On a weekly basis almost I go into [Dr. Arbuckle’s] office and we talk about current problems in the nation and specific problems in Chicago,” said Beal. “I think the coolest part is that they care about the problems in Chicago as much as I do. That really means a lot to me because coming to Miami, I had no idea professors or students would care about it. Meeting Peyton, who’s from Wisconsin and seeing him caring about the problems in Chicago impacted me too.”
Though the organization is starting with a Chicago conference, Beal is adamant about expanding across state lines. He purposefully selected board members from different states for his organization.
“After we do the conference in Chicago, I want to sit down with everybody and decide how to make the jump from state to state,” he said. “We want to stay with bridging the inner-city and suburban kids so I think that people from Cincinnati who go to Miami would be a great help with that.”
Beal is grateful to his fellow students and Miami faculty for their support as he assembled his group over this school year.
“When you have an idea like mine to make this big change and big organization, you need support and confidence,” he said. “Miami students and faculty gave me the confidence to do this.”
To become a part of YPHAVT or find out further information about the organization, email the board at firstname.lastname@example.org