Teaching the art of Public Service at LEAP Academy
Starting small projects in public service can go a long way in a person's political career
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In observance of Women’s History Month, Camden’s LEAP Academy University Charter School gave a class of middle school age girls the opportunity to learn about leadership through the eyes of New Jersey State Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez.
The senator explained different aspects of how city and state government worked. From political processes such as how a bill process goes through the house and the senate as well as how to work together between political lines in order to pass a bill.
Students were given a chance to ask Cruz-Perez of her experience in government not only as an official but also as a Latina woman. One of them asked if the senator ever faced people who said that she could not do her job. “Of course,” Cruz-Perez replied, “And they also said that I have a heavy accent, where I was from, but that did not stop me.” she continued, “When people said where are you from, you have a heavy accent. I said I was from Puerto Rico and I speak three languages: Spanish, English and German” said Cruz-Perez.
She told the students that there will be good and bad moments working in public service, but if you are doing a job to make a difference then the sky is the limit. Along with continued education, Cruz-Perez mentioned that getting involved with your community is a good start to a political career. To the senator, something as simple as a block party in your neighborhood and calling your elected officials to organize it is a good start.
After serving in the military for a few years she arrived to Camden in the early 1990’s during the height of the city’s arson and crime problems. At that point she knew that she had to do something to change the image of the city.
Cruz-Perez wants to pass her years of knowledge and experience to a whole new generation of women leaders. In order to keep these students inspired to get into public service, she has offered the LEAP students a chance to visit the capitol building in Trenton and see firsthand how democracy works. “We need more people who are passionate for the right reasons” said Cruz-Perez, “It is a good thing to be involved in politics. We are making decisions that are affecting people’s lives and their future.”