Ryan Pascal Is a Teen Rebel With a Cause

From Parkland to Palos Verdes.

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  • Written by
    Anthony Karambelas
  • Photographed by
    Monica Orozco

In an affluent neighborhood like Palos Verdes Estates, named the second safest city in California by the National Council for Home Safety and Security (2019), Palos Verdes High School student Ryan Pascal had little need for concern about gun violence. Following the tragic Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 in Parkland, Florida, Ryan dug deeper into the lives of the victims and survivors. She was shocked to find parallels.

Parkland’s median household income was nearly identical to PVE’s. Marjory Stoneman Douglass was a public high school, like her school. Gradually the shooting adopted a more unsettling, acutely poignant meaning for Ryan—this could have happened to her.

Personally invested, Ryan reached out to the Florida chapter of Students Demand Action, and before long she found herself at the doorstep of Everytown for Gun Safety—a leading American nonprofit for gun control. Ryan jumped headfirst into the fervid and often frenzied world of activism.

She stood before a sea of orange at Sea King Park to lead proceedings for a national, 17-minute walkout honoring the victims of Parkland. Just two months later she joined the youth advisory board for Everytown. This past August Ryan embarked on her eighth business trip for Everytown, flying to New York to serve as a trainer for the 2019 Gun Sense University in Washington, D.C.—an annual weekend-long conference for Moms Demand Action volunteers. She’s hosted leadership summits, spoken on panels and even been photographed by People magazine for their “25 Women Changing the World 2018” spread.

“She’s definitely made me face the unknown,” said Jackie, Ryan’s mom. “I was [the] one who went to college, med school, residency, got married. Straight shot, nothing in between. And then there’s Ryan, who challenges that. And it makes you feel outside your comfort zone. And I’m someone who doesn’t like that space, so I’ve had to learn to settle in that and watch her blossom.”