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SCOE-Appointed Board Member Elevates Student Voice

New Role Brings Fresh Perspective to Meetings

Judith Marquez posing in front of the Capitol in Washington D.C.
Judith Marquez, SCOE-Appointed Board Member Representing Students, advocated on behalf of students in Washington D.C.

The Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) has appointed Judith Marquez as its first-ever Appointed Board Member Representing Students, a role that bridges the gap between students and the Sacramento County Board of Education, ensuring that student voices are heard and considered in decision-making processes.

Marquez, currently a student at Sacramento City College, brings a unique perspective to the table, having experienced challenges firsthand while growing up. “I always lived in ‘the hood’ and went to a lot of continuation schools. I saw friends get involved with the criminal justice system,” Marquez shared. “After growing up in San Francisco for 16 years, my family moved to Sacramento and I found myself in a place where I knew no one, and once again enrolled in continuation school due to being credit deficient. I felt hopeless and had a tough time adjusting.”

Through hard work and perseverance, Marquez completed her high school education through the SCOE Senior Extension Program and has remained determined to make a difference. As a proud recipient of the Gary K. Hart Resiliency Scholarship, her determination led her to work with youth in a local school district, focusing on social-emotional learning through sports. “When I started working with kids, it just did something to me,” said Marquez. “I found love, patience, compassion, and an ability to be unconditional to an extent that I didn’t know was possible to attain.”

In her role as SCOE-Appointed Board Member Representing Students, Marquez facilitates weekly meetings of Student Advisory Committees at two SCOE junior/senior high schools: Elinor Lincoln Hickey and Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr. The students participating in the advisory committees are provided opportunities to build civic knowledge and leadership skills while collaborating on ideas to improve their school and community.

Marquez’s dedication to her role has not gone unnoticed. “Judith has been a fantastic addition to our team,” said Assistant Superintendent Jackie White. “Her commitment to bringing student voices to the forefront aligns with our goals and plans, particularly those related to improved teacher-student relationships.”

Last month Marquez, accompanied by two County Board of Education trustees and the Executive Director of SCOE Communications, joined a 400-person delegation led by the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce, known as the Capitol-to-Capitol program, where she had the opportunity to advocate on behalf of students in coordination with the delegation’s Workforce and Education Team. “This experience was not just had by Judith Marquez the SCOE-Appointed Board Member, but really had by the 16-year-old girl inside who had a dream, who still battles to feel a sense of belonging, and who is finding that lost dreams awaken, and new possibilities arise,” reflected Marquez. “This is really the life I have built for myself with the help of so many.”

Marquez continued, “At our meeting with Congresswoman Doris Matsui, she emphasized the importance of keeping students at the center of decision-making. The room, filled with professionals, city, and county leaders, fell silent. Encouraged by a nod from my team’s co-lead, I spoke up for the students in our SCOE programs. With the mentorship of those present, I felt supported in ensuring that our students’ voices were heard. I thanked the Congresswoman for sharing her concern.”

Looking ahead, Marquez plans to continue her education and pursue a career in social work, focusing on youth that are justice-involved. “It’s something I’ve been passionate about since I was 16 years old,” she noted. “I enjoy connecting youth to services, being a guide for them as they learn to navigate life, step into their greatness, and know someone truly believes in them.”

For those who hope to follow in her footsteps as a SCOE-Appointed Board Member Representing Students, Marquez offers this advice: “Remain authentic. Share with your heart and share openly. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think something’s not working. Your seat at the table is just as important as everyone else that’s there.”