My name is Fiona Fitzgerald, and I am a life-time resident of West Roxbury. My family has lived in Boston for many generations, but we still strongly identify as Irish-Italian. Our deep sense of culture and community has created a powerful family network that I am proud to be a part of. My family is most definitely the most important thing in the world to me, and I am constantly learning from their compassion, humor, and love. Ultimately, I think that my interest in public service was born from my family’s dynamic nature because they made sure to instill in me the importance of caring for others and the necessity of thinking beyond oneself. On a daily basis I have seen my mother or father or aunts or uncles do things not because they are bound by some mandate of “family”, but because they genuinely care and want to improve the lives of others around them. At its most basic core, this is what I believe the purpose of government is—to provide structure in a way that humans can coexist productively without sacrificing empathy or general human camaraderie.
That being said, I have not always been sure that I wanted to work in the public sector. When I was little I always wanted to be a lawyer just because I thought it would be fun to have a job where you could argue for a living, but after a while that fell to the wayside and I imagined myself as some cutting-edge scientist. During my time at BLS I realized that while this is a career path that I deeply admire, it certainly is not one for me. My interest was drawn back to politics and governmental service actually by the many vocal voices at BLS who often called for change. ImpACT, Ladies’ Collective, STAND—the list of social justice clubs that I wanted to join but never did is endless, but they did inspire me to educate myself and learn a bit more about what was going on in the world around me. I’ve always been someone who needs to find an answer to a question, so studying history and trying to learn more about how our society came to be has fascinated me and given me more than a lifetime’s food for thought. Learning in a classroom setting only gets you so far, though, and I feel that the example of my family’s demonstrative action and my impending entrance into adulthood has recently pushed me towards my own involvement in government and my community. After reading and hearing about all the ways that governments have made some people’s lives better or some people’s worse, I became interested in my role and seeing how I could fit into the fray. This led me to apply to the Ward Fellowship, even though I really didn’t know much about the program or what I wanted to do.
Now over halfway in, I am very happy that I sort of just followed my gut. I don’t have any set plans for the future, but this summer has really opened up my eyes to politics and the role of government. By working in constituent services at Congressman Kennedy’s office, I am able to make a real difference in some people’s lives, and I find it refreshing to be reminded that government or politics do not consist of purely TV worthy, mud-slinging campaigns; the true purpose of government is to help others. For every politician, there are 50 people working behind him or her to spread the benefits of the system, and as so far I have greatly enjoyed my part in that process. This landmark summer and upcoming election have made me question what I want to do, and I think it’s funny that I feel myself turning back to my childhood dream of law, now just with a spin on government. I deeply believe that I will be able to carry the experiences and values gained from the Ward Fellowship with me through life, and I hope that this summer is a good harbinger of what’s to come!