Teen nominated to human rights board

September 18, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

An interest in improving relationships between students of different ethnic backgrounds has led Fred Tsai to the Howard County Human Rights Commission, of which he's expected to become the next student member.

The 15-year-old Centennial High School student wants to work on strengthening the links between the commission, the school board and the county's 36,000 students. And while he believes the school system has made strides in improving human relations, he says there's still more that can be done.

"The focus in the educational system is on the accomplishments of the European immigrants to this country, but not the other immigrants," he said. "There's a lack of understanding between the Board of Education and the Human Rights Commission about students. I hope I can bring new ideas, younger ideas."

Fred's position on the commission is subject to approval by the County Council, which will have a public hearing on the matter at tomorrow night's meeting and is expected to approve his appointment at a meeting next month. He has the recommendation of the commission and County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

Although Fred would become a nonvoting student commissioner the third in the commission's history -- he would have the chance to voice his opinion on all matters heard by the 11-member board. He also would oversee a new adjunct committee made up of students from throughout the county.

Jan Nyquist, head of the commission, said Fred stood out among the three candidates for the job.

"His thinking was more pro-active than the others," Ms. Nyquist said. "A lot of the work he's doing in the community is human relations work. He's already doing it.

"The other candidates were also excellent," she added. "We would have done right by any of them."

For one of his projects, Fred said he would like to do a countywide survey to find out what students think about multicultural education and what kinds of improvements they would like to see in the county.

"I want to give the board more ideas as to how to work in the future," said Fred, who hopes to study international business in college.

Fred said that working on the commission "was something that could get me into county government. It was also a subject I was interested in."

The high school student already has some practical experience in politics. He worked as a volunteer with the Clinton-Gore campaign in the last presidential election, and has helped the Democratic team of Parris N. Glendening and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in its gubernatorial bid by working the polls and passing out political literature.

Fred also is a senior patrol leader for a Boy Scout troop. He is working to become an Eagle Scout and is in the middle of a project to build a basketball court in Baltimore's Sandtown-Winchester community. He is seeking ideas and donors to raise between $400 and $500 to enable him complete his project by December.

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