Jorge Sanchez Bautista is making difference in school, society

(PORTLAND) — His classmates at McDaniel High School call him “Mr. Mayor” and “The Future President” because Jorge Sanchez Bautista works for the people and causes.

For the past couple of years, Bautista has joined or led many activities for society’s betterment in Portland, whether it be social justice (housing, transportation, racial), climate change, protests, meeting with elected officials and being interested in politics and government, or whatever. It’s a long list.

“I’ve been loving it and enjoying all the moments,” said Bautista, a 17-year-old junior. “Do I plan on continuing it? Next year, I still plan to do the same thing. I just like it. In the future, I definitely do still see myself doing this.

“I’m always asked, ‘What do you plan on doing with all this?’”

Bautista’s community involvement includes Portland Youth Climate Strike, OPAL Oregon, Students Demand Action, New Portlanders Police Commission, SOLVE Oregon, Portland Association of Teachers, High School Democrats of America Campaign Committee and Deian Salazar’s City Council Campaign.

At McDaniel, it’s been the Student Ambassador Program, Equity-Climate Team, Student Administrative Advisor and more.

Bautista is also a member of the Cully Association of Neighbors, and has participated in a community cleanup.

Maria Grzanka, co-chair of the association, said it was a pleasure to see somebody who was not “old” working at the cleanup.

“He’s organized several cleanups that I participated in,” she said.

“He’s always challenging us to get a youth voice, and I think that’s special. We’re a bunch of old people in our neighborhood association — pretty typical.”

Bautista has also been a Cully’s Tax Increment Financing District Community Leadership Committee member.

Keyla Santiago Rodriguez, McDaniel vice principal, had never had a teacher’s assistant (TA) as an administrator. Bautista asked Rodriguez to be her TA, and she accepted.

“It worked out so well, and he has taken it as an opportunity to learn about being a leader,” Rodriguez said.

“He has grown substantially as a student leader this year — observing, listening and reflecting on the skills and qualities that make for a good leader.

“He has, at a very young age, set a path for himself. He wants to be a civic leader, and what I admire is not just knowing that about himself but also how he has made significant, active steps toward it in just two years. He cares about social justice at a high level and truly wants to improve student experiences at school and the community at large.”

Bautista was born and raised in Cully to Mexican-American parents. His dad came from the state of Jalisco, and his mother was from Yucatan. They are both Mayan, and Bautista takes great pride in being part of the indigenous people in Mexico.

Even in elementary school, Bautista wanted to help out.

“I was always that kid who would help teachers — a teacher’s pet, you could say,” he said.

An older sister was very active in causes, and Bautista watched her protest in 2020.

Bautista has written many letters to elected officials, as well as for the student’s voice in legislation, providing testimony for about 14 bills in the latest Oregon Legislature session.

Among the involvement highlights are the Students Demand Action and Equity-Climate Team at McDaniel.

Bautista also works for Portland Parks & Recreation by teaching sports classes. 

 As an “average student,” Bautista looks to the future beyond high school. He wants to attend a university in Washington, D.C., perhaps George Washington University.

Again, activism isn’t an endeavor Bautista does to help his future.

It’s to help people now.

“Ever since I’ve been doing this, I’ve heard from everyone, ‘This will help you in college. You should put it on your resumé, do something with it,’” Bautista said. “I always say, ‘I don’t really care.’ I’m making my voice heard, doing something and not being silent.”


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