My political ideology, as well as my personal identity, is informed by my nomadic life guided by a single mother who served the community as a teacher. My grandfather worked for the VA, which forced his family to live in 15 different states over the course of 18 years. Since my mom grew up moving, she never learned to settle down; I have moved ten times and never stayed put more than two years until my acceptance into Boston Latin School.
At Latin, I competed in every Public Declamation starting the very first term of my ‘sixie’ year. On the auditorium stage, I cultivated a stage presence and confidence that I carry into all of my undertakings and projects. Throughout my life I have been an athlete. In High School, I narrowed my athletic focus and committed to rowing. I competed on the National and International level, but what I value most aren’t the medals I earned. I am proud of the fact that I survived a team environment by learning how to communicate with less than pleasant people, how to lead by example, how to enact change, and how to advocate not only for myself but for my team. These skills have prepared me for the workplace and public service.
I was initially attracted to Public Service in my Environmental Science class, where I was exposed to all the issues that are gradually destroying our environment and quality of life. I saw that many of the issues stemmed in a social, political, or economic practices and I came to believe that the problems of the world aren’t going to be solved by radical environmentalists or issue groups (no matter how urgent their message is). I took an interest in the process of change that occurs on the various levels and branches of our government. Ultimately, I want to get into Public Service because I want to advocate for causes that are overlooked and I want to restructure society with solutions not problems. Ideally, I want to help transition both our cities and our culture to sustainability through legislation and acute attention to responsible development.
I began working in Congressman Kennedy’s Newton Office this summer. Government isn’t exactly how I pictured it; I blame that on youthful idealism. I am frustrated with the bureaucratic red tape and the cautious, protective measures that are often taken before helping people in government offices. I am interested in public service because I want to help people, not necessarily directly, but through small concepts that can have big picture impacts for the better of the community.
For example, I have been working on an Emergency Housing and Shelters Resource guide for a couple of weeks. I compiled a packet of 90 housing resources for MA D-4, I organized this packet into municipal and private resources and incorporated a feature that directs towns with less resources to neighboring towns and nearby out of district resources. I have been developing a website to make this packet more accessible and to give it an online presence that the constituents would be able to use in a crisis. When I presented this packet, I was lauded for my thoughtfulness and thoroughness, however, I was told I needed to remove all the private resources and only provide government sponsored programs. This severely depleted the helpfulness of the packet for people in need. I am now only allowed to provide them contact information for other housing resources that will direct them to the same private resources I had previously included.
So why can’t we put the information all in one place? We need to protect the Congressman, we wouldn’t want to seem like we were endorsing these great non-profit companies that take care of the downtrodden. Why does saving face or avoiding any possible complaints outweigh the necessity of helping the homeless find a bed and some help getting back on their feet? I feel like the mindset is that congressional staff serves the Congressman, instead of the constituents. But shouldn’t congressional staff have the task of extending the Congressman’s ability to reach and help his constituents? I understand the need to protect the Congressman, but to what extent? Who is the number one priority?
I have been wrangling with this in the office. I have discovered that I have a very strong desire to advocate for and help everyone who calls in, I am a perfectionist and want to give each individual caller every resource I have available, but we can’t do that because we don’t want the constituent to become reliant on this office for help.
My strength lies in project management, problem solving, and development of ideas. I am very creative and ambitious, but I feel stunted answering phones behind the desk. I don’t know if I dislike my duties as an intern or the general restrictions that come in public office. I concede that Congressman Kennedy’s Newton office does a fair amount of good through constituent outreach, I am just frustrated by the pace and rigidity of that help.
My plan was to study Public Policy/Government and Environmental Science. I was thinking that I would want to bring sustainability to cities through legislation. I am definitely about the big picture, leading, and change through advocacy, but I may need less structure and more passion about issues in the work place. Although, I am frustrated with the current political culture, I still hope to serve the public in the future and overcome the gridlock of government, in the tradition of my dedicated Mother and Grandfather.