Morristown, N.J. (September 29, 2016) – The highlight of junior Isabel Santos' education so far was her internship with Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in the summer of 2016.
"The Newark office works mainly on constituent advocacy to help constituents with their issues and problems," she said. "I answered phones, took messages, and did research as to how the current policies would affect the people."
Not just learning about politics, Isabel also learned about how policy decisions affect specific demographics.
"Senator Booker would listen to the issues from the communities, then look at what he could do on a policy level to help the community," she continued. "I helped build on outreach for the Middle Eastern and Muslim community."
The internship changed the way she thinks about government.
"Senator Booker showed me that the government is supposed to be for the people, setting policy, and working with individuals and groups to navigate the system."
This is not Isabel's first encounter with Sen. Booker. When attending East Side High School in Newark, she took many AP classes, and was also an activist.
"While I was in high school, Mayor Cory Booker (now state senator) would walk around the community and ask the people their opinions. I requested that the city libraries be kept open longer," she explains. "A few months later, the main library announced longer evening hours to accommodate those who could not use the library earlier."
Emboldened by this success, Isabel looked for ways to help her community, including the community at CSE.
When looking at colleges, Isabel was accepted into every one to which she applied, including Cornell and Fordham Universities. She chose CSE because she liked the intimate nature of the classrooms and the opportunities to have serious dialogues with her professors and classmates.
"I attended an open house and immediately felt like this is where I belonged," she says. "I met Professors George Sirgiovanni, Nicole Yanoso, and Margaret Roman and it seemed like they were all trying to convince me to major in their subjects!"
Currently in her junior year majoring in English and history, and minoring in political science, Isabel is the president of the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and a member of the International and Intercultural Club. She is also in the honors program and sits on the student honors council.
Isabel is of Hispanic and Lebanese descent and is quite aware of issues surrounding both cultures.
"I volunteered for charity events in a mosque," she explains. "Islam is very much about charity to others and I wanted to participate to give back to the community."
Although she is not Muslim, she has ties to the Muslim community through friends and enjoys discussions about faith and practice.
Her goals are lofty, but for her, realistic.
"I would like to go to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, or Harvard Law," she explains. "I aspire to become involved in government with public policy and blend my knowledge of community with my future knowledge of law. Or I would like to work on the international level, perhaps with the United Nations."