June 2020 – Drew University rising sophomore Gabriella Ramirez wanted to work for a political campaign that hit close to home. It turned out “close to home” was more symbolic, as the Newark, NJ, native set about interning for a grassroots political campaign in…Michigan.
Ramirez felt the pull to work for a progressive campaign that aligned with her values and accepted a remote internship for Solomon Rajput’s U.S. congressional campaign in Michigan’s 12th district, which stretches from the suburbs of Detroit to Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan.
Her work includes outreach to constituents to help raise funds for the grassroots effort via both phone calls and texting. She also attends weekly policy meetings to help form the campaign’s stance on various issues, as well as determine how to disseminate them to the public.
“It’s really cool because it allows interns to have a say in what they believe the campaign’s policy should be and how it should be carried out,” she said.
Ramirez was particularly drawn to Rajput’s campaign due to its grassroots nature and progressive ideals.
“After I graduate from Drew, I want to pursue a career that advocates for and brings justice to marginalized groups, particularly individuals from low-income urban communities,” she said.
“I want to do this through grassroots lobbying because I believe it’s one of the first steps to developing social movements. This internship will teach me what it’s like to carry out a campaign and how this process unfolds, which is particularly important to know as someone who is also considering taking on a role as a political figure.”
Ramirez has found a common thread between Rajput’s policy stances and her own, which she has tackled firsthand through a concurrent fellowship with America Needs You 2020, a two-year program designed to guide first generation college students through career development and leadership training workshops, and an internship with Do Something’s Summer Ambassador program that develops students into being agents of change and leaders in their communities.
Her strive to address big issues hasn’t stopped with summer internships either. As a first-year Civic Scholar, Ramirez worked with the Interfaith Food Pantry (IFP) and Neighborhood House Homework Center (NHHC).
She guided low-income residents in Morris County in finding the resources they needed based on dietary restrictions, family size, and household income with the IFP and assisted elementary school students with their reading and math homework after school with NHHC. In both instances, she utilized her native Spanish language skills to broaden her impact.
Once I found my place at Drew, I began to explore my passion in nonprofit work and helping low-income communities of color like mine.
“My volunteer work was directly aimed to help Latinx community members transition into the American lifestyle by helping them find the resources they need,” she said.
“In my internship, we work on policies that are designed to provide assistance for communities of color like Latinos by promoting things like Medicare For All, supporting the abolishment of ICE and seeking racial and economic justice. We create policies that are intended to uplift those that do not have the same privileges as we do.”
Ramirez also joined Ariel, Drew’s Latinx student organization, and volunteered in the Drew Honduras Project to stay connected to her Latinx culture.
“Once I found my place at Drew, I began to explore my passion in nonprofit work and helping low-income communities of color like mine so that future generations don’t have to experience the same culture shock I did in coming to college,” she said.
“I’ve already declared a double major in political science and sociology as a means of reaching those goals, and my volunteer work and my internships will only get me closer.”
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