Valerie Jarrett Visits Parker as Inaugural Stenn Civics Speaker Public Lecturer

“You can never be too young to be civically engaged,” said Barack Obama Foundation CEO and lifelong public servant Valerie Jarrett, as she sat beside a panel of Parker students at Morning Ex this week. Jarrett served as the inaugural Stenn Civics Speaker Public Lecturer, and her message of the importance of young people resonated in both her morning presentation and her evening Zoom event.

Juniors Suhani Aggarwal, Josh Ijiwola and Harry Lowitz addressed Jarrett at Morning Ex about the future of democracy, the importance of education in democracy and the overall importance of civics. Jarrett reiterated to the crowd of 4th–12th graders that no matter how young people are, they can make a difference in their communities.

“The baton is now with you,” Jarrett said as she encouraged Parker students to feel responsible for their own future and recognize the power of voting and influence from local to federal levels.

During the evening lecture, juniors Genia Jefferson, Krish Malhotra and Pau Maset continued the conversation with discussion about the power of one’s voice, with Jarrett sharing stories about her time in the White House under President Obama and the value of being informed citizens to better serve our democracy. 

Jarrett concluded with a plea to the audience—regardless of age or role in the community—to find one point in the day to ask, “What am I doing for the greater good today?” because little by little, we can all make a difference.

These events were made possible by The Stenn Family Civics Education Initiative, which supports Parker’s mission to educate for citizenship in a diverse democracy by funding guest speakers, student programming and faculty training that provide insight into the development and responsibilities of citizens, elected officials and governmental processes.

Civic leaders like Jarrett are living examples of Parker’s mission to educate students to become thoughtful civic leaders in our diverse democracy. Her legacy serves as an inspiring example of the power of civic responsibility and how one person’s voice can effect real change in our democracy.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.