Meet the Council

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Shiwani Lata

Position: Chairman
Appointed: April 2018
District: North Merced
High School: El Capitan High School

Activities Involved in: Team Captain for Tennis, currently active in school Leadership Activities and Senior Class President.

Why I Joined the Youth Council: I joined the Youth Council so I can have a say in what is going on in my community. I am very excited to work with the council to help our community. I would like to accomplish my goal for being confident in what I do for the benefits of others.


Sarah Schmidt

Position: Vice Chairman
Appointed: May 2018
District: Central Merced
High School: Golden Valley High School


Griselda Gonzales

Position: Secretary
Appointed: May 2019
District: South Merced
High School: El Capitain High School

Activities Involved in: Some activities that I am involved in are link, AVID, the MCTCP (Merced County Tobacco Control Program)

Why I Joined the Youth Council: I joined the Youth Council because I wanted to be active in the community. In my other programs we don’t really focus on the community. When I heard about the Youth Council I thought this is a great way to be more involved. During my term I would like to get more youth involved in the community because there isn’t many teens involved.


Mayra Lua Reyes

Position: Public Coordinator
Appointed: May 2018
District: South Merced
High School: El Capitan High School

Activities Involved in: Academic Leadership, Interact Rotary Club, CSF ( California Scholarship Federation), AVID, Link, and ESA ( Environmental Science Academy)

Why I Joined the Youth Council: I joined the Youth Council because I want to become more involved in my community. I have volunteered before with organizations and for local events, but I want to be more directly involved and help host the events in Merced. I also want to be aware of any new projects or developments so that I can share this information with other youth in our community and encourage them to come to our public meetings and share their insights. During my term on the Youth Council, I hope to become a role model for the youth in South Merced and remind them that their voice can bring change to our community.


Bella Neugebauer

Position: NA
Appointed: January 2019
District: Central Merced
High School: Merced High School


Tessa Gonsalves

Position: NA
Appointed: October 2019
District: North Merced
High School: El Capitan High School

Activities Involved in: High School Leadership, El Capitan Softball, VSA Travel Softball, Academic Mentoring, and the Gay-Straight Alliance Club.

Why I Joined the Youth Council:

I joined the Youth Council because I desire to be more involved in my community and get more youth interested in what the community of Merced has to offer. I am excited to be a bigger influence on my community while helping others enjoy their time at community events. During my term, I plan on working to include the youth in well-planned events throughout the community. I would like to help create fun and positive events that not only interest families with small kids, but are also of interest to teenagers. I believe if more people are involved in the community of Merced, we will be able to have more resources to plan big events and reach out to everyone. 


Kaylie Escobar-Islas

Position: Historian
Appointed: October 2019
District: Central Merced
High School: Merced High School

Activities Involved in: Academic Decathlon, AVID, Book Club, California Scholarship Federation, Junior State of America (JSA), Volunteering at Fusion Volleyball (formerly CLC Volleyball) and Luther Burbank Elementary ASSETS Program

Why I Joined the Youth Council: 

I joined the Merced Youth Council in hopes to make our organization a positive influence within our community. I’m really honored to be on the council and excited to become more involved in new projects regarding our growing city. I realize the challenges that come with this new role and pledge to follow through with great responsibility. Throughout my term I wish to inspire other youth to become more involved in their local community and develop into the best possible version of themselves. And of course to love and be proud of their hometown, Merced!


Hilda Barragan-Reyes

Position: Ex-Officio 
Appointed: Active since October 2019
District: South Merced
High School: Merced High School

Activities Involved in: activities

Why I Joined the Youth Council: I joined because...