We are often shaped by our environments. And for me, Rose Silverman, my neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, Boston, is what has shaped and empowered many of things that I am involved in. Growing up in this diverse neighborhood, along with my parents and two younger sisters, I’ve always been attuned to the differences present. Why could I get to the top of my street and turn left and reach markets selling fresh produce and specialized organic restaurants and then turn right to find bodegas selling soda for 25 cents? This inequity is what propels many of my extra curriculars along with my interest in public service.

It does not, make sense to me that one’s quality of life, even within one neighborhood in Boston, is so dramatically different. This observation led me to join Racial Reconciliation and Healing my freshman year at Boston Latin School, where I’ll be a senior in the fall.This youth group meets twice a week at the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center and I have been working there since my freshman year of high school. Through my work at the health center I have learned about the ever-present institution of racism. Additionally, this work has taught me about the varying levels of health outcomes along racial lines. With a purposefully diverse group made up of half white youth and half youth of color, we discuss the interpersonal and structural consequences of racism. Through Racial Reconciliation, I have been given the opportunity to speak and communicate this knowledge to various youth groups and conferences.This work has helped me recognize the importance  of building a united and strong community. This same realization led me to serve on the Mayor’s Youth Council, where I served as a Jamaica Plain representative for my junior year. I have also always been interested in education and the often frustrating lack of ability for students to speak up and play a role in their own education. This interest has led me to work with other students within Boston Latin School, and hopefully with students in other BPS schools, to create a Boston Student Union. At school, I proudly participate in our school’s STAND for Human Rights group which gives me an appreciation for my rights as well as reminding of all the work left to be done in this country and in the rest of the world.

Thanks to the Ward Fellowship, I am interning in City Councilor Tito Jackson’s office where I am able to see the direct impact public service can have on constituents’ lives. This work, along with my other passions of anti-racism work and education reform, would not be the same without the experience of growing up in a community like Jamaica Plain. I hope to pursue public service, or some sort of work that serves those in communities, in the future. Knowing what it feels like to be enveloped in something bigger than myself, a community, is what will always shape my future.