Youth Leadership Challenge Finalists in the Old Senate Chamber

“What are the steps that need to be taken in order to increase civic engagement?”
Chantel Gillus, finalist

Chantel Gillus, a Junior at Roanoke Valley Early College, asks that question in front of a captive audience at the Old Senate Chamber at the North Carolina State Capitol.  She would ask this question again later – standing in front of a group of 75 judges, attorneys, family members, and invited guests at the City Club in downtown Raleigh.

Ms. Gillus poses this question, not only because she is passionate about the role of citizens in making her community a better place, but also because she is the winning finalist in the McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge program.

Coordinated by the North Carolina Bar Foundation in partnership with the Law Day Committee of the Young Lawyers Division, the Youth Leadership Challenge strives to inspire and encourage high school youth to demonstrate the qualities of good citizenship by developing the skills required to seek solutions to the various problems within their local communities through research, public speaking and community action.

The finalists were invited to give their speeches on May 3 at the Old Senate Chamber in front of a panel of NC Court of Appeals Judges, including Chief Judge Linda McGee, Judge Hunter Murphy, Judge Reuben Young, and Judge Christopher Brook.  The judges gave useful feedback to the participants and encouraged them to continue working intently on issues of concern in their communities.

Aprie’la Warren, the 2019 runner up and a senior, also from Roanoke Valley Early College, tackled the issue of poverty and income inequality in her speech.

“Without knowledge of the many resources that are available, citizens will continue to fall into the trap of being low income and in poverty, and unaware of the steps needed to avoid becoming part of this statistic.”
Aprie’la Warren, finalist

With financial support from the Douglas Carmichael McIntyre II Justice Fund, donations in the amount of $1,000 and $500 were made in honor of the winner and runner up, respectively, to organizations of their choice that work to address the issues identified in their speeches.

Both finalists were awarded plaques and symbolic donation checks at the City Club Raleigh during the awards luncheon of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Law Day celebration.  Former Congressman Mike McIntyre and YLD Law Day Committee member Leila Hicks presented the awards.

Both finalists were joined at lunch by their close family members, Congressman McIntyre and his wife Dee, along with various program supporters and NC Bar Foundation Staff.

“Civic engagement is important because it helps further the standard of life within a community”
Chantel Gillus, from her presentation

Chantel Gillus appears to be on her way to playing a big role in shaping her community, either at home in Halifax County, or wherever she eventually chooses to take her passion for making positive change in the world.