Q. Tell us about a person who guided or inspired you in the ideals of public service.
For me, it was Mr. Cantillo, a teacher who pushed me to see the importance of public service. Growing up in the quiet suburbs of western Massachusetts, I can still recall my fifth-grade classroom being covered with photos of Caesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandela. There was one particular quote plastered on the wall that always had an effect on me: “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. … Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
Even at the age of 10, those words resonated with me. They were a reminder that the best way to react to toxic political climates, xenophobic rhetoric, and discrimination is by advocating harder for communities mired in powerlessness and struggle.
My fifth-grade teacher took it upon himself to have meaningful conversations with us about social justice and equity. He took the time to introduce us to important historical figures and the changes they brought about through action and collective effort. Having a teacher who entrusted those lessons to a classroom full of youth was never lost on me and it is why I have become such a staunch believer in the importance of civic engagement and public service.
Q. Tell us why you decided to get involved in Draw the Lines PA.
Through my involvement with Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP), a millennial-run organization increasing civic engagement in the city by representing, connecting, and empowering young Philadelphians, I have fostered a strong desire to strengthen education and advocacy efforts for key civic issues in Philadelphia. As a Board of Director for YIP, I have had the opportunity to connect with local civic leaders and experts on a range of topics including community and neighborhood engagement and running for local office. These experiences have pushed me to seek greater opportunities to increase my democratic participation and become a more involved citizen. Getting involved with Draw the Lines PA seemed like a natural fit due to its initiative to give voters the tools to shape future elections. As someone who wants to see fairer, more transparent, and more competitive elections, getting involved with Draw the Lines PA affords me the opportunity to use data and technology to meet those goals of strengthening our democracy.