Four years ago Michael Ouk helped engineer the victory that allowed Hong Net to make history as the first Asian-American elected to office in Lynn.
Ouk was the campaign manager for Net, who was elected as a councilor-at-large. Wednesday night Ouk made it official that he will be a candidate for a seat on the Lynn School Committee in the fall election.
Ouk, 30, spoke about his decision to run for office in an interview this week.
“Since graduating college and coming back to Lynn, I’ve been involved in a lot of volunteer work in the community,” said Ouk. “I do a lot of organizing among the Cambodian-American community and I’ve been slowly reaching out to the Nigerian community and other groups.
“All of that volunteer work has taught to better appreciate that it is a village that is needed to raise or educate a child. I’ve developed a deep appreciation how interwoven everyone and every society structure is. I’ve seen how having good leaders in City Hall affects how we can bring cultural awareness, cultural events, human rights awareness, and civil rights awareness to the city and help everyone feel more included in the whole democratic process.”
A former student at the Brickett and Marshall Schools and a 2002 Lynn English High School graduate, Ouk attended Gordon College where he received a degree in Biblical Studies and Theology. He currently works full time at Element Care PACE, a non-profit that helps individuals over 55 who are clinically frail to stay at home instead of having to go into a nursing home.
Ouk will draw upon his own experiences as a student in the Lynn school system. He has talked with his former teachers and current School Committee members to discuss school-related issues.
“I know what it’s like to grow up as a first-generation American, speaking only one language at home and learning to navigate the unique social structure of schools,” said Ouk.
Oak said as a youth he received excellent guidance from mentors, keeping him out of trouble and on a focused path to college and his professional career.
He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work at Salem State University but he will put that venture on hold while he runs for office.
Ouk said he intends to campaign door-to-door throughout the city.