While most college-aged men and women are preparing to become the nation's next leaders, Seekonk native Evan Berwick has already become one. Less than a year removed from being a Seekonk High student, Berwick was elected to the school committee last month at age 18.
Berwick, who turned 19 April 23, said his interest in the operation of the school district began at an early age.
"I sat behind the monitor in the television studio during the meetings since my freshman year in high school," he said. "I always liked the meetings. I thought it was important—five people making sure that the town gives the kids the best education it could."
Berwick said he originally wanted to run for the seat during his senior year at Seekonk High. He couldn't do it because his 18th birthday fell before the deadline for the nomination forms. Berwick made the decision to run this year in mid-January.
"At first, my parents thought I was kidding," he said. "Then I came home one day with the nomination papers and it got real."
Berwick entered a strong seven-man field that included two former school committee members and a former selectman. He said he felt he needed to run on something concrete, and there's nothing more concrete than budget numbers.
"I thought about what I was going to run on, what I would do," he said. "I thought the most current thing is that we need new revenue, especially now with the governor's plan and a cut to Chapter 70 funding. My whole plan is there's never been a better time than ever to look for new revenue without new taxes."
As a college student, Berwick said he is more available for his duties as a school committee member.
"Being a student, I have flexible hours," he said. "If I need to go take care of something, have a meeting with the superintendent, I have periods of the day when I can go do it."
Berwick is a freshman at the New England Institute of Technology in East Greenwich, R.I. He said he didn't want to go the route others take of traveling far away for their college education.
"I needed a different type of atmosphere," Berwick said. "I needed a hands-on practical atmosphere. Even if I did get a free ride [elsewhere], I probably would not go. I wouldn't like to be away from home and not be able to travel."
Berwick ran his campaign on getting fresh blood onto the committee, and it definitely resonated with the voters.
"I had a lot of people in the town telling me you know you should do it," he said. "I listened to it, and the more I went around when I was campaigning and door knocking ... everyone seemed to respect the fact that I was young, had new ideas and I couldn't have been influenced by other people. That was the general consensus from [the residents], they wanted to get new people."