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My name is Yanxi Fang, and I am a rising senior at Boston Latin School and a proud Ward Fellow at the Boston Planning and Development Agency. I am originally from China, and in my multi-year process of learning English here in the U.S., I was intent on only one thing: being able to effectively communicate with those around me. Consequently, I gave very little thought toward cementing friendships or seriously contemplating my career prospects, until I arrived at Latin School.

In my eighth grade year, I joined BLS YouthCAN, the environmental club, mostly to heed the repeated advice of those in the guidance department, and partly because the faculty advisor, Ms. Arnold, happened to be my homeroom and history teacher, making the presence of the upperclassmen seem less frightening. It was through YouthCAN that I had my first exposure me to the workings of American democracy, when I attended a session of the Boston City Council, during which I saw that the general public had as much time on the floor as the lawmakers themselves. Later that year, YouthCAN brought me to Washington, D.C. for the first time, arriving to see the celebrations and protests in response to the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which had just been decided by the Supreme Court that morning. The trip also corrected my perception of secrecy and inaccessible grandeur at the US Capitol, since I found out that any law-abiding citizen could enter freely to visit their legislators’ offices.

With this experience in mind, I put myself to work, earning the BLS Outstanding Contribution to Leadership and Service Award at the end of tenth grade. The award recognized my work in various traditional leadership positions in clubs at the school, my dedication to community service, as well as my role as one of two student representatives on the Headmaster Selection Committee, which ultimately identified Ms. Rachel Skerritt as the twenty-eighth headmaster of Boston Latin School. This year, I decided to apply to the Ward Fellowship to continue my pursuit of public service opportunities, and fortunately, I was placed with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, where I will work in the Housing Compliance Unit. I am looking forward to starting my Fellowship!