COSLI November Newsletter
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COSLI November Newsletter

The COSLI newsletter is written and edited by students on the COSLI Student Advisory Board and is released on the first Monday of each month. Enjoy student perspectives and updates on events and opportunities! 

Letter from the Executive Editor

Dear Friends of COSLI, 

It’s already time for another election! It’s the month when we exercise the right that defines the United States, and make our voices heard. Despite this, it seems that appreciation of elections is lower than ever, something I can find myself feeling as well. When looking at the big picture, I often question what impact I could possibly have with my vote or voice. What’s one person among millions? However, running for Student Advisory Board President at COSLI this November has given me a new perspective on elections: the perspective of a candidate. 

As a voter or student bystander, it’s easy to think of the candidates for positions in the federal, state, or even local government as far too important to bother with any one person. It feels like they are above you. For me, this has been a major driver of my lack of appreciation of elections. Thinking about the situation as a candidate for the first time, I realize what should have been obvious in retrospect: one person among millions is everything. Candidates could not care more about voters, not just on the basis of winning the election, but on the basis of caring about their wellbeing and views. It’s easy to think of politicians as cold-hearted pragmatists, but people who don’t care about their constituents rarely run for office. While the scheduled release of this newsletter will be late for you to reach out to candidates to determine who to vote for, it’s never a bad time to reach out to representatives to express your views or point to problems. They look forward to hearing from you. 

Thank you all, 
Tobin Wheeler 
COSLI Class of 2020 
Olympia High School Class of 2023

Letter from the Founding Executive Director

Friends of COSLI is proud to be a Project of the Rose Community Foundation

As Tobin says, it is the month of elections.  A significant time for sure.  As our political landscape becomes more and more complicated, it is clear that we are all looking for an ability to hold critical conversations in a way that is respectful.  Here's hoping that this election cycle will return us to that reality.

It is also the month when the COSLI Student Advisory Board will be meeting - this weekend!  We can't wait to welcome them all to Denver.  Our theme this year is "Mature Outrage:  Learning to Listen."
But the most important event that is happening for COSLI is that the application is open and we are starting to see a new class begin to form!  Every year our hope is to see the entire state represented.  We are actively recruiting students in our rural communities, students in areas where there is under-representation, students from Colorado's mountain towns and Eastern plains.  We hope students from the large reservations in the Four Corners region will apply.  In other words, it is our goal every year to be certain that students from all parts of Colorado find their way to COSLI.  
Here is the application link: .  If you know a current high school student, grades 9 - 11, who would be an engaged COSLI applicant, we hope that you will nominate them.  We're looking forward to 'the best summer ever.'  Yeah, we say that every year.  And every year it's true.
I hope that each of you enjoys this month of gratitude.  We, as Americans, have so much to be grateful for in this ever-evolving Republic experiment of ours.
Happy Thanksgiving!

House Minority Speaker Hugh McKean, 1967 - 2022

Thank you, Hugh (he told us to call him that), for your non-partisan kindness and integrity; for being part of COSLI every year; for being willing to listen and truly hearing. You will be missed.

View arrangements here

Youth In Government: Colorado Youth Advisory Council 

By Sidd Nareddy 

As a program that is created and funded through the state government, COSLI has many valuable connections with the state legislature. COSLI students leave the program with an understanding of how the government functions and how the key decision makers create bills. After gaining this knowledge, a few COSLI alumni have continued on to gain a deeper understanding and experience of the government through another state-legislated program known as the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC). 

COYAC was created by the state legislature in 2008 to “examine, evaluate and discuss the issues, interests, and needs affecting Colorado youth now and in the future, and to formally advise and make recommendations to elected officials regarding those issues.” COYAC is a state-wide council with youth representatives from each Senate District who identify the problems that youth in Colorado face and solve them through policy suggestions. COSLI alumni are currently serving on this council as executive committee members, where they guide the broader council, and as appointed interim committee members. As a part of the bill that created COYAC, the council is guaranteed an interim committee, a committee that meets every year outside of the regular state legislative session of January-May. The COYAC interim committee is composed of five youth representatives from COYAC and five state legislators. Within this committee, the youth representatives present policy suggestions in areas that they conducted thorough research on. Over the course of three meetings, these policy suggestions are discussed and molded into formal bill drafts that will pass on to the General Assembly to be voted on in the following legislative session. 

In the past, COYAC has passed numerous bills in a variety of areas such as youth mental health and foster care resources. In fact, for the students reading this, if you take a look at the back of your student ID, you will find the number for Colorado Crisis Services, which was added because of a COYAC bill aimed at increasing access to crisis support services. During their most recent interim committee, COYAC presented seven policy suggestions, of which three will be moving on to be voted on in January. These three bills include substance abuse intervention, disordered eating prevention, and disciplinary equity in education. While the remaining four bills did not move through the interim committee, legislators can still pick up one of these bills as a personal bill to run during the next legislative session. 

An interesting part of COYAC is that the program recently underwent a sunset review. A sunset review is an evaluation conducted by the Office of Regulatory Agencies of a program to determine if there is still a need for it. Their report on COYAC determined that “COYAC provides a valuable service by actively engaging in the legislative process by recommending changes and improvements for issues affecting the youth population in Colorado,” and that the program should continue. 

Youth representation within the government is extremely important. Youth provide a firsthand perspective on various issues that are vital to the creation of effective and equitable policies. The next time you see something in the community or at the Capitol that you would like to change, make sure your voice is heard. Whether it be writing an email to your representatives or testifying for a bill at the Capitol, make sure your voice is heard. It matters. 

To learn more about COYAC and the COYAC 2022 interim committee, visit the website linked here

To read the full sunset report on COYAC, visit the website linked here

Lessons Learned

By Skyla Rogers and Nathan Yang 

In today’s world, we are surrounded by dangers and risks at every turn. But isn’t that a part of life? While danger is an aspect of life for all, teens are particularly vulnerable to risk, especially in cases of substance abuse. As we mourn the losses of family members and close ones lost to the vicious effects of substance abuse, taking action is pivotal to saving lives. 

In July of 2022, Governor Polis signed in a new law regarding the illegal drug fentanyl, an opioid that is often mixed with other illegal medications. According to the CDC, this synthetic opiod is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl is one, if not the most dangerous drug known. To make matters worse, the rise of fentanyl is posing an even greater risk for adolescents – according to a 2015 – 2017 report from the CDC, one of the biggest victims of this drug were young adult males, especially black males aged 18 – 24 years old. Governor Polis recognized these alarming statistics and increasing fentanyl-related deaths, and signed in a new law that allows prosecutors and police to charge suspects with felonies for the possession of any substance containing more than a gram of fentanyl (around 10 pills). In a CPR news article, Governor Polis stated that “[a]cross our state, people are simply fed up with the pain this new and dangerous drug is inflicting in our communicates.” 

This bill was intended to address the emerging dangers associated with fentanyl, but there are some who feel that it doesn’t go far enough. Many feel as though there should be a policy of “zero tolerance” towards this drug and anyone who is processing it. There remains much debate about this drug and the Colorado legislation addressing it: a substantial majority of Democrats and about a third of the Republicans voted for this bill to pass, allowing it to be enacted into law.  

As COSLI strives for a well-educated and politically active society, the lessons in COSLI taught students how to be diligent with their own thoughts and discussions. The goal of COSLI is to make students discover themselves and distinguish themselves from a group mentality, and become politically active, independent citizens. COSLI students are introduced to opposing views on a variety of political issues, including the fentanyl crisis. Here are some data points about Fentanyl from a COSLI alum. They used information from American addiction centers' measurements for determining overdose risk. A lethal dose is two (2) milligrams. One gram equals 500 lethal doses. One ounce equals 14,000 lethal doses. That would mean that under this current legislation, possession of one ounce or less having been decriminalized, an individual can possess 14,000 lethal doses without fear of legal repercussions. The fentanyl crisis is far more than a war on a dangerous substance, as it connects to broader societal issues, such as the opioid crisis, law enforcement, and immigration. By confronting the fentanyl crisis with the same analytical, nonpartisan thinking that COSLI students are taught, we may make greater progress towards a solution that saves lives. 

Student Accomplishments
By Alyson Font

Rachel Lewis (2022): Lewis presented her NHDC performance at the annual showcase on 11/4.  She received resounding reviews!

Sara Taketatsu (2014):
Taketatsu has been selected to participate in the 2022 – 2023 class of the Weil Legal Innovators Program, which engages incoming law students in addressing some of society’s most pressing social and legal challenges. Over the next year, Taketatsu will be working at the intersection of law and policy at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, whose mission is to advance civil rights for Asian Americans. She will be working in Washington DC before attending Harvard Law School. 

Myria Garcia (2018): Myria was awarded at Model UN in Boston! Model UN is a world-renowned program in which students role-play delegates representing member states of the United Nations. American University is the current national champion and also won Best Delegation!

Riley Cooper (2021): Cooper ran in the Division III Northwest Conference Cross-Country Championship! The Northwest Conference is one of the oldest athletic conferences in the western United States. 

Emma Davis (2019): Davis was elected captain of the Durham University fencing team. Durham has a top training fencing program and is currently the #1 fencing club in the UK. Davis then led her team to a fantastic victory of 135 – 111 in her first match!  

George Slowey (2019): Slowey is a staff writer at the Diplomatic Envoy, which keeps readers updated on international and diplomatic news. They focus on adding students who are interested in putting foreign policy analysis and critical thinking skills into practice, learning basic journalism and news writing, and experiencing a dynamic newsroom atmosphere. Slowey wrote an amazing article called the “Futility of Vladimir Putin’s Mobilization.” Read it here:

Wren Capra (2022): Capra competed in the State Championships for high school mountain biking this October in Glenwood Springs. Out of a field of 115, she placed 12th! Not only that, but Capra also won the Toyota Slingshot award for moving up the most places of anyone in the Colorado Cycling League. She overcame some mechanical issues she had in the regional tournaments and went from 108th to 12th, passing 96 racers!

Congratulations to these COSLI students who now serve on the Student Advisory Council for One Chance to Grow Up.  They are Vanessa Tao, Jaylynn Warren, Monroe Castle, Sanjita Balaj, Oliver Schmeckpeper, Aisha O'Neil, Lauren Angelo, Judge Ropp (COSLI 2022). 


by Deajane Jackson Morgan

Abolition Now! by The Cr10 Publications Collective 
What the Eyes Don’t See by Mona Hana-Atisha 
Confess by Colleen Hoover 
Verity by Colleen Hoover 
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard 
Davinci’s Cat by Catherine Gilbert Murdock 
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling 
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson 
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 
The Mosquito Bowl by Buzz Bissinger 

COSLI Listens

See what your COSLI students and alumni have been listening to! 

by Deajane Jackson Morgan

Tough Drafts, podcast 
You’re Wrong About, podcast 
“Hot Mess” by dodie 
“Hurts Me Too” by Faye Webster  
“Live Cinema” by Ellie Williams 
“Mastermind” by Taylor Swift 
Midnights by Taylor Swift, album 
“Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-5)” by Pink Floyd 
“Shirt” by SZA  
“The Way I Love You” by Michal Leah 

COSLI Alumni Feature: Jessice Kern 

By Anjana Radha 

Jessica Kern is an alumni from the COSLI class of 2016 who was excited by the idea of spending a summer with like minded peers, wanting nothing else but to learn. Through acclimating to the “college” experience, Kern was able to expand her political and educational perspective in a way like no other. Jessica emphasizes the importance of learning to collaborate with those who might have different beliefs or methods to complete a task, something COSLI excelled at teaching. 

A 2022 graduate of the Colorado School of Mines, Kern spent her years close to home majoring in Chemical Engineering with a Biological Speciality and a minor in Biomedical Engineering. College opened up a new world of opportunities for her: Kern captained a club sports team and interned at a scientific glassware company for 3 years.

Through the clubs and social groups she joined in college, Jessica made lifelong friends and built a strong network. She now works as a trade compliance engineer at an electronics company, utilizing the skills COSLI helped shape to create new connections and put herself out there. Kern’s goal is to gain more experience as an engineer interacting in corporate spaces before moving into a more design or research-based role at an engineering firm. 

Jessica’s favorite COSLI memories include bonding with her peers and signing thank you cards the night before the showcase. Cracking jokes all night, they came together to create something special, no matter how many different views each student had. She tells future COSLI students to take advantage of every opportunity given to them and to think outside the box. While it can be draining, it also helps students create personal connections with those who will help them end up exactly where they need to be. Seeing COSLI as not only an opportunity, but a place of knowledge, allowed Jessica to develop the skills she needs to push her boundaries.

Things to Know

By JP Kerrane 

Hello! It’s JP, and I’m back for the third “Things to Know” column, dedicated to current events, technology, interesting tidbits, and other cool things I find each month! I hope to write about a lot of interesting topics worth your time. If you have any ideas for what I should focus on next month, please feel free to email me at

In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has made tremendous strides forward. In particular, the last year has seen a number of impressive breakthroughs in AI technology. 

One area where AI has shown particular promise is in the area of natural language processing (NLP). NLP is a field of AI that deals with understanding and generating human language. In the last year, there have been a number of significant advances in NLP, including the development of new algorithms that can better understand the meaning of language. 

From AI-generated art winning the Colorado state fair to AI-powered apps that can generate emails and articles, AI is quickly making its way into our everyday lives. I must admit that AI has gotten so good at writing, I am not the author of the last two paragraphs. GPT-3, a language model developed by an AI research company called OpenAI, generated the introduction of my column from a couple of sentences prompting the AI to write about the topic of advances in AI during the last couple of years. We are entering an era where it will be hard to distinguish whether content is created by a machine, or by a human. 

Deepfakes, created using AI, are new types of content where doctored images, sounds, or both are used to trick people into believing something is real. These have been especially prevalent in politics where they can be used to “influence elections or stir up political controversy.” 

To fight AI-created misinformation, you can use many of the tools that we have traditionally used to fight misinformation in the past. When you’re unsure about the credibility of a news story, image, or video, get a second or third opinion from a trusted source. Additionally, you can investigate using a search engine. You can reverse image-search an image or a still from a video using Google Images or Tineye to find additional context or analysis.

AI, do you have anything to add about how to fight AI-created misinformation? 

And there you have it! I hope you have a great rest of your November. 

Take care! 


Opportunities & Events November 2022
by Knox Leonard and Aisha O’Neil 

The U.S. Youth Ambassadors Program is a leadership exchange program for U.S. youth ages 15 – 17 and adult educators. The program provides full scholarships for 120 students and adult educators from the United States to take part in one of six exchange programs in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The program promotes mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration between people in the United States and other countries of the Western Hemisphere. Apply here

The Denver Public Safety Cadet Program is a specialized training and education program designed to help strengthen and diversify the future workforce of the Denver Police, Fire, and Sheriff Departments. Those who are accepted into the Cadet Program work part-time in Denver’s Public Safety agencies while attending college full-time. Cadets are currently compensated $15.87 per hour (up to 28 hours per week). Beginning January 1, 2023, the pay for Cadets will increase to $17.29 per hour. Cadets also receive paid in-state tuition and books at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) or the University of Colorado Denver (UCD). Learn more here

The boys2MEN program connects and builds young men by providing educational opportunities through academic instruction, life skills, social/emotional learning, relationship building, and career exploration. They foster learning and empowerment by providing leadership development programs, promoting artistic expression as well as healthy lifestyles via 5 protective factors and wellness recovery action plans. Learn more here and apply here

Rampart Search and Rescue Cadet Program is for those between the ages of 10 and 20 interested in the field of search and rescue and emergency medical services. Rampart Search and Rescue is a volunteer organization for people involved in the outdoors in the Adams County area who are interested in emergency medical assistance. Applications for the program are open year-round. More information and application here

The 350 Colorado Youth Action Committee is a committee for the 350 Colorado Climate Organization dedicated to promoting youth activism and interest in climate action. The committee is run by youth for youth. The youth action committee is for any youth living in or outside of Colorado who has an interest in having a say in the future of climate action or wants to be involved in climate action and climate strikes. More information on the Youth Action Committee and 350 Colorado here and join the committee here

Girl Security works with girls, women, and gender minorities 14 – 26 from all around the United States and its territories. They employ a phased mentorship model, connecting girls with a student or a professional one-step ahead of them in their advancement into national security. Girl Security Mentoring Network offers two options for mentoring: a six month match with 6 – 10 hours of e-communication or a three month match with 3 – 6 hours of e-communication. Find more info here and apply here to be matched with a mentor! 

The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students to spend an academic year attending a German school while living with a host family. The program provides a network of support through reputable international exchange organizations, field staff, trained volunteers, and carefully screened host families to ensure the safety and success of the participant’s exchange experience. The program is designed to strengthen ties between youth, improve their career skills through formal study and work experience, and expand their perspectives and awareness of each other’s culture, society, history and politics. Apply here

Meet the Middle East is dedicated to fostering relationships between the United States and the Middle East. Among its offerings are immersion trips to the Middle East, educational classes for youth to adult learners, academic presentations, and cultural offerings. Meet the Middle East also encourages business interactions, congregates authentic media and voices from the region, and strives to educate and unite diverse populations. Apply for the Youth Ambassador Program here.

Colorado History: November

By Sandra Brock and Izzy Garwood 

November 8, 1881: The city of Denver becomes the permanent capital of Colorado by referendum. 

November 7, 1896: The Denver Zoo opens. 

November 15, 1902: After a prolonged court battle, Colorado splits Arapahoe County into three different counties: Adams County, South Arapahoe County, and County of Denver. 

Happy Birthday

to our COSLI alumni! If any of these other students are from your class, take a minute and send them a birthday wish! 

by Sandra Brock and Izzy Garwood 

Angela Li - 11/03 

Bella Nigro - 11/04 

LaMoure Philmon - 11/06 

Malaysia Pullman - 11/06 

Cherelle Jones - 11/07 

Nivedita Prabhu - 11/07 

Annika Aumentado - 11/08 

Shiela Ta - 11/08  

Joyceline Tweneboa - 11/09 

Mikayla Crouse - 11/10  

Anysa Vilchis-Ruiz - 11/10 

Isis Hammond - 11/12 

Lorenz Wilkins - 11/13 

Chaltu Hamma - 11/15 

Jasnoor Kaur - 11/15 

Aria Swenk - 11/15 

Dorcas Mwika - 11/16 

Alma Wolf - 11/16  

Yatziri Gonzalez - 11/21 

Rohini Tangri - 11/21 

Sabrina Tran - 11/21 

Maria Green - 11/23 

Eh K Blue Lah - 11/25 

Daniel Ngo - 11/25 

Ewan Wummal - 11/25 

Emma Logan - 11/28 

Heaven Chacon - 11/30 

Reema Patadia - 11/30 

COSLI Newsletter Contributors

Tobin Wheeler, Editor (Olympia, WA) 

Sandra Brock (Aurora, CO) 

Alyson Font (Monument, CO) 

Izzy Garwood (Westminster, CO) 

JP Kerrane (Broomfield) 

Knox Leonard (Denver, CO) 

Joe MacDougall (Golden, CO) 

Deajane Jackson Morgan (Aurora, CO) 

Sidd Nareddy (Westminster, CO) 

Aisha O’Neil (Durango, CO) 

Anjana Radha (Erie, CO) 

Skyla Rogers (Westminster, CO) 

Nathan Yang (Greenwood Village, CO) 

Friends of Colorado Student Leaders Institute
A Project of the Rose Community Foundation

Celeste Archer, COSLI Founding Executive Director
Kayla Gabehart, COSLI Associate Executive Director
University of Colorado Denver
Campus Box 182 | PO Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217
p: 303-315-1789

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