Meet some of the young leaders making a difference at CCC

Clackamas Community College  attracts a wide variety of students from all walks of life, including (sometimes very) young individuals searching to get a head start on higher education.  Programs such as student government and leadership classes attract many of these individuals and give them tools needed to positively impact our community. 

Madelina Larkins, 16, is the Associated Student Government President at CCC.  Since joining student government in 2021, Larkins has spoken with legislators and other representatives of the Oregon government about issues facing today’s youth.  

Recently she traveled on behalf of the student government to Washington D.C., speaking with state representatives about local issues facing community colleges on a federal level.  On campus, Larkins advocates for the funding of student programs relating to housing, transportation and food.  

But Larkins isn’t convinced she wants to go into politics full time.

“My work in journalism showed me that I didn’t want to be a journalist and that I didn’t want to be a politician and that I wanted to be an activist,” Larkins said.

She aspires to be an activist or policy advisor on a STEM-related job in her future career.

But Larkins isn’t the only young leader on CCC’s campuses, or in the surrounding community. In fact, she’s one of many.

Zephyr Berry, 18, grew up in an unstable environment until he was introduced to Second Home, a program that connects houseless youth to host homes.  Berry was approached by the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) after hearing his story and was asked if he would be willing to share it to support bill HB2455.  Over the summer of 2022, Berry assisted EMO with advocating for the bill.  Bill HD2455 was passed and helped to secure several million dollars each year to fund projects and programs for homeless youth.  

 One young leader taking political action in the community is Rory Bialostosky.

Rory Bialostosky, 23. Photo by Grant Pauli

At 23, he is the interim mayor of neighboring West Linn and has been involved with city government since 2017. He was appointed interim mayor in January of 2023.  

Bialostosky started his involvement in politics during his time at West Linn High School in an effort to find a solution to the parking shortage affecting students.  Many students were arriving to the school hours early, along with homeowners renting out their parking spaces to students.  The solution?  Opening the side of the overpass for parking and creating a new parking lot.

After his first encounter with politics, Bialostosky “fell in love with local government” and continued his involvement with city meetings.

At the end of 2020 Bialostosky ran for a commission spot with the goal of reforming the commission and “to give the people of West Linn a government that they can be proud of and that is working towards a better future for the community”.  When asked about the importance of youth in politics, Bialostosky said  “the city council should represent the community and look like the community in terms of age” to reach a balanced representation.  

Having a leader that represents the younger generation helps them feel empowered and gives confidence that their ideas will be taken seriously.  Bialostosky is an example of a leader who saw an opportunity to serve his community while finding a passion. 

“Getting involved and building connections are key to anyone running for office,” said Bialososky.  

His example helps to show the younger generation that they can start working to enact change while in their youth.

Bialososky, Berry and Larkins show the younger generation they can enact change and make a lasting impact now.

Grant Pauli