I was born on March 17th, 1997, and I have lived in Roslindale since then. My parents, Stacy Swain and Mark Smith, had just moved back one year in earlier from El Salvador, where they were living for the past five years working in public health, and where my older brother Matthew had been born.
My parents enrolled me in the Rafael Hernandez School for elementary school, which is located on the border of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. The Rafael Hernandez is a unique Boston Public School in the fact that it provides a bilingual education, meaning that one week all the classes are taught entirely in Spanish, while during the next week, all classes are taught in English. Starting my education at a school that toggled between Spanish and English gave me a fresh perspective on language at such a young age. It was fascinating to learn English contemporaneously with Spanish, and it allowed me to compare and contrast not only the sounds and structure of the languages, but also the different threads of the American fabric they represented. Being one of the few non-native Spanish speakers exposed me to different cultures, traditions, and socio-economic and racial nuances at an extremely early age, and thus my interest in international relations was sparked.
I left the Hernandez in fourth grade and enrolled at the James W. Hennigan School in Jamaica Plain in the Advanced Work Program. I was there for two years, and then studied at the Washington Irving, located in Roslindale, my own neighborhood, for sixth grade. My older brother was already at Boston Latin School since he was three years my senior, and so for seventh grade and on, I would join him there.
Although I moved around the BPS system quite a lot in my early education, I received an amazing education which greatly prepared me for the rigor of Boston Latin, maybe more so than others who took the parochial or private route. My freshmen year at Boston Latin I joined the Girl’s Soccer team, and was on the team for all four years of high school. My senior year, I was Captain of the soccer team and it was the first time since the eighties that girl’s soccer made it to the state tournament.
I was also Co-President of Ladies Collective, a student run club that educated, supported, and empowered girls of all ages, and focused on creating a dialogue about gender issues. Additionally, Peer Mentoring was very central to my high school experience. Since I was lucky to have an older brother at Boston Latin to come before me and show me the ropes, I felt like I had a responsibility to give back to younger students who didn’t have that same advantage. Through Peer Mentoring, I academically and socially mentored younger peers and established meaningful relationships that transcended grades or age. Sophomore and Junior year I was a Homeroom Representative to the student council and worked on the student-administration relation committee to draft a teacher-feedback survey which aimed to bridge communication between teachers and students.
Believe it or not, the intersection of all the seemingly unrelated facets of my personality, such as being a leader on the field, being passionate about women’s rights, being interested in student government, and finding a love for giving back to my school all led me to an interest in public service. In the fall, I will be attending Harvard University and intend on concentrating in Government.
The William Ward Fellowship has been such an incredible experience in terms of exposing me to the different roles of municipal, state, and federal government, but it has gone beyond that by facilitating the inception of relationships with mentors whom I can learn so much from. Specifically, interning for City Councilor Michelle Wu, who is not only new to office but also new to parenthood, has deeply inspired me both professionally and personally. I hope to one day be able to sponsor a Ward Fellow and give back to the fellowship.