Marian students help pave way to Omaha’s future

by Maddie Robertson



Political selfie Kate Bilyeu ’18, Kristin Beduhn ’19, Kate Kellen ’18 and Peggy McGowan ’19 are caught by McGowan’s phone at the first meeting of Mayor Jane Stothert’s Omaha Youth Advisory Council. This isn’t the first time a few Marian girls have been able to influence local politics.

Marian girls are always encouraged to seek out opportunities that enrich their lives and allow them to pursue their passions. When Marian’s Daily Bulletin advertised an application for Mayor Jean Stothert’s Youth Advisory Commission, four students couldn’t help but take a look.

Seniors Kate Bilyeu and Kate Kellen and juniors Kristin Beduhn and Peggy McGowan each filled out a form that asked for their involvement in school, two letters of recommendation and the signature of principal Mrs. Susie Sullivan or their counselor.

Marian’s government classes and the Young Politicians Club are open to all students, but the Youth Advisory Commission offers the four girls an additional chance to immerse themselves in the world of politics while gaining political experience. “I want to do something with politics and the government when I’m older, so I thought this would be something fun to introduce myself to it,” Bilyeu said.

The Commission has only had one meeting so far, but the group has already brainstormed several ways they can improve the Omaha community. In their last meeting, the Council had speakers come in to talk with them about stereotypes, bullying and segregation.

“After hearing the speakers we chose how we think the mayor should approach the issue and then advise her to do so. It was really amazing being in such a diverse community because you got to hear so many different perspectives,” Beduhn said.

The Commission will continue to focus on discrimination and increasing equality in Omaha for the rest of the year. At the end of each monthly meeting, the Commission members will share their suggestions on how to better Omaha. Any ideas approved by the Mayor’s Advisory Commission will be presented to Stothert and possibly be incorporated into her policies.

Stothert is the first woman to hold the position as Mayor of Omaha in the city’s 163 year history. Working under a strong female leader has truly impacted the girls. “It’s really awesome because I can see myself in a role just like hers,” Bilyeu said.

While having a woman in a position of power to look up to is a plus, the four have had no problem showing their true Marian identity in their council group. “I love to see how confident we all are and how we are able to handle our own in a large group,” Kellen said.

Though they haven’t changed any laws or passed any bills (yet), the Commission members have grown in both knowledge and character. “It has changed me because it inspired me to think,” McGowan said.

Indeed, the Comission has given all four Marian girls a better understanding of the Omaha community, a deeper appreciation for the world of politics and more insight on how to skillfully craft ideas to improve the city they call home.

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