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Alumnus honored for dedication to empowering youth

Northeastern alumnus Peter Petrin has been selected as one of the “Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers” by a bi-partisan, youth-led initiative called the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council. SparkAction, a collaborative, nonprofit journalism and advocacy network, curates the Changemakers series.

Petrin, who graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, is currently in Mississippi teaching mathematics to high school students through the Teach for America program.

Petrin devoted his college career to youth development, with a particular focus on political engagement. He served as a Democracy Coach and director of Northeastern’s chapter of Generation Citizen, a nonprofit that uses an action civics curriculum to teach underrepresented middle- and high-school students how to become effective citizens.

“I had the opportunity to discuss community issues with youth, find out what they saw as the reasons for community disengagement, and talk about what we can do about it,” said Petrin. “It was a great chance to focus on the issues I find important and help youth create solutions to the problems they saw.”

In 2012, Petrin was elected president of Northeastern’s Student Government Association. The appointment gave him the chance to put into practice the skills he had been coaching for the past few years.

His proudest accomplishment as SGA president came in the fall of 2012. It was then that he spearheaded the NUVOTES initiative, which focused on getting college students to invest in the future of the Greater Boston community and become stakeholders in the democratic process.

“We worked on fostering a campus environment in which students were educated on local policy issues,” said Petrin. “It was a fun opportunity to bring together different areas of campus that don’t usually collaborate to work together to accomplish one goal: elevating the power of student voice.”

Both SparkAction and The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council focus on enhancing the student voice and view youth as vital stakeholders in the democratic process, which directly aligns with Petrin’s longtime passions. The recognition is a fitting distinction, and one that Petrin takes humbled pride in. “It’s definitely an honor,” he said, “and affirms the importance of working to elevate youth voices, and all voices in our democracy.”