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Take Five with Emmanuel O., 2022–23 Honorary Student Board Member

17 March 2023

Emmanuel is passionate about advocating for student wellness in his position as the Honorary Student Board Member.

Photo of Emmanuel, Honorary Student Board Member

This week, we are excited to spotlight Emmanuel O., current junior at Jones College Prep and the 2022–23 Honorary Student Board Member. Even though he is still a junior, Emmanuel has already adapted to and embraced a lot of new experiences throughout his high school career. Some of these experiences were unexpected, like starting his freshman year learning remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others were rewarding, like getting involved with a student voice committee or participating in the Civil Rights Scholars Program with the CPS Office of Student Protections and Title IX. When Emmanuel found out about the Honorary Student Board Member position, he decided to apply because he was excited about the possibility of having another new experience and the opportunity to serve his peers.

As the Honorary Student Board Member, Emmanuel has represented the CPS student body by attending the monthly Chicago Board of Education meetings and advocating for student voice on behalf of himself and his peers. He also serves as an appointed member of a District-level student voice committee.

“Emmanuel has been invaluable as our Honorary Student Board Member,” said Miguel del Valle, President of the Chicago Board of Education. “His curiosity and passion will take him far with whatever he chooses to do next, and I have no doubt that he will continue to make our world a better place.”

The application to become the 2023–24 Honorary Student Board Member is open now through April 28, 2023. All rising juniors and seniors at CPS who are interested in gaining leadership experience, shaping the future of the District, and receiving a $1,000 scholarship toward their college education are encouraged to apply. For additional information on the application and eligibility requirements, please visit or email

What have you learned in your time as the Honorary Student Board Member?

I've learned a lot about the inner workings of Chicago Public Schools. Just from being a student, I had already experienced amazing CPS teachers and administrators firsthand, but before I was the Honorary Student Board Member I knew very little about how the District operates on a higher level. I’ve learned so much about the Chicago Board of Education and how it works, as well as all of the different CPS departments, and it’s been interesting to learn how all of these different pieces work together, from the school-level to the District-level.

Which issues that impact CPS students are you most passionate about?

I care a lot about student wellness, especially thinking about how CPS can make sure students’ identities are supported and our needs are being met. Student wellness includes topics like safety and daily experiences with things like school lunch, but it also means making sure students have access to mental health care and resources if we’re feeling burned out or experiencing trauma.

Do you have any advice for other CPS students who are thinking about applying to this opportunity?

Be curious! I think one of CPS’ biggest overall goals should be helping students stay curious about the world, and I’ve learned a lot because I am always seeking out more knowledge and I try to keep my mind and heart open. I also hope the next Honorary Student Board Member remembers to enjoy the experience. You will get a lot of support from the Board Office and the Department of Student Voice and Engagement. So even though this position is serious, and representing over 300,000 students isn’t the easiest thing, you will never be alone!

What are your interests outside of school?

I am really interested in public policy and learning about the government and how it works. I also love television, film, and architecture. Chicago has iconic architecture!

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I have an open mind. I definitely want to learn more about public policy, and I might consider going into government. But I primarily see myself continuing to think outside of the box, collaborate with other people, and figure out how we can turn ideas into things that can actually help people. I also know in the future I will continue watching the Board of Education meetings — It’s so important to engage with them, it’s like democracy!

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