I told myself when I graduated that I had some guidelines for myself. I did not want a normal nine to five pencil-pusher job. I didn’t want to be doing very mundane work; I wanted my life to have meaning. I really wanted to know I was going to work everyday and I’m making an impact and I can see the results. I needed to see that I was doing something good, which again comes with that moral compass and Catholic guilt.

I think back about when I was able to reconnect with my dad’s dad, and I was hearing all these stories. It was really interesting to hear about how he grew up and all the struggles he went through. That really puts things into a new perspective, that even though I may not be suffering directly, someone suffered for me to be able to get here. It’s really insensitive and privileged to go through life thinking everything is fine. You need to know that someone in your family struggled for you to be able to get to where you are now. It’s a pay-it-forward really. I owe it to my family to help other people get through this today. There are other families that are still going through these struggles, and I’m not going to be able to fix everything, but if there is anyway that I can use skills, my education, or whatever talents I may have to help someone even a little bit in life, that is worth it.

In my mom’s family, we had a small family business. Being a part of that and understanding the differences between how small businesses run versus a big corporation has been interesting and beneficial for me. Eventually we got bought out, a very large corporation bought out all the family businesses and they have a monopoly now, but that even comes back to my work here. So here, our slogan is, ‘people and planet before profit’. Everything goes back to the idea of privatization and that profits should not be a priority. People need to come first, and I think I’ve realized that between my mom’s family and my dad’s family there needs to be a nice happy medium. For me, a lot of times that means looking at the immigrant community, because there is so much happening in their lives that it can be hard for them to see the big picture all the time. If your boss isn’t paying you and now you have to make rent it’s stressing. It’s important and you have to address it that issue, but at the same time if this company that makes millions a year and they’re saying they can’t afford to give you a raise of health insurance, there’s an issue there.

“When we surround ourselves with the same people, it can grey your mind a little big.”

Now I’m getting my master’s in public policy at Drake, and it’s been really helpful in understanding how to work in city government. You have to be somewhat non-partisan as an administrator, so that’s been a really good challenge for me. I was in a class this semester where we had to take a big policy change and talk about it but not take a side on it. I think that was good practice because sometimes when we surround ourselves with the same people, it can grey your mind a little bit. If you don’t challenge yourself like that, or you don’t expose yourself to people who think differently than you do, I think you just do yourself a disservice. I think there’s a problem if you cannot have an intelligent debate with someone.


Challenges of the Job