Give Something Back aims to empower students within the organization by providing a platform for them to contribute to their scholar experience by sharing their perspective and needs with Give Back. The Give Back Scholar Advisory Board was created to offer such a space. It acts as the liaison between the Give Back Scholars and the Give Back Board which allows direct input of scholars’ personal experiences to the construction of the Give Back plan. 

Yan Bo Lin, a high school student in New York, is the current President of the Give Back Scholar Advisory Board. He is the first to hold this position and takes great pride in it. I had the opportunity to speak with Yan about the workings of the Scholar Advisory Board and their approach to this significant role for Give Back scholars. 

The Scholar Advisory Board breaks down the process as follows: They receive input, collect experiences, and gather feedback from students who are part of Give Back. This is done through small, informal meetings where state representatives connect with groups of scholars from their respective states. During these meetings, scholars share their thoughts, voice their likes and dislikes, and suggest improvements. The goal of the small groups is to create a comfortable environment where scholars can openly share their feedback and feel heard. 

Yan believes that the Scholar Advisory Board significantly enhances the student lifecycle in Give Back. Essentially, the valuable feedback collected by the board helps refine the program to make it more enjoyable for students. This improved experience draws more scholars to share their ideas, creating a positive feedback loop for Give Back. 

Currently, there are Scholar Advisory Board members from the following states: California, Delaware, New Jersey, Kansas, and Illinois. These scholars were elected by their peers to their position and have been trusted to be the voice of the scholars in their respective region. Yan said “members of the Advisory Board seem to be enthusiastic and ambitious individuals. Considering most of the Advisory Board had to go through an election process — I think it is proof that the members are willing to put themselves out there and are self-driven.” 

Give Back Coaches are in constant communication with Give Back scholars. The Scholar Advisory Board hopes to help make that communication enjoyable for the scholar and coach by offering deeper insight into the scholar’s thought process. As the board continues to grow and gain traction, they hope to embark on bigger projects such as: a scholar-run newsletter, fundraising for Give Back, assisting in promotion for Give Back, and orchestrating scholar-run events for Give Back Staff, scholars, and others. 

The Scholar Advisory Board is seeking new members, particularly those who are genuine, amiable, courteous, truthful, candid, and open-minded. They are specifically looking for representatives from California, Delaware, Kansas, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. — but interested individuals from other areas are also encouraged to reach out. 

Joining the Scholar Advisory Board is an excellent way to connect with fellow Give Back scholars and presents a valuable opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. 

Give Back scholars interested in having their voices heard or joining the board should reach out to their coach or director to find out who their scholar state representative is. State representatives regularly contact scholars to arrange meetings and gather insights on recent experiences with Give Back. Scholars with ideas can email their state representative directly.