Civics Lesson: Gabriella ‘19 Shares Her Passion for Politics

From teaching during lunch to her coursework and Senior Signature Project, Bay student Gabriella ’19 is deeply invested in the political arena. We sat down to learn more about her love of all things politics.

How did you become so passionate about politics?
My parents, especially my dad, are really into politics and they did a really good job of immersing my brother and I in the Presidential Campaign of 2008. I’ve been obsessed ever since. I like that politics has a kind of community service aspect–making real, attainable change in people’s lives. There are a lot of systems that are broken and the new generation of young people have the ability to change it.

How have you pursued that path in and beyond Bay?
I came into high school knowing I wanted to think about something in politics for a career. I joined Model UN my first week of freshman year and have been to just about every Model UN meeting since. Now in my senior year I’m co-leader of the Model UN Club. It’s a place where you can explore really using politics in government, making resolutions to make change. Model UN is where I talk with people who have similar interests. I’ve also taken courses including U.S. Foreign Policy, Comparative Government, and the new Immersive Mathematics of Democracy at Bay. This past summer I travelled to St. Albans School of Public Service in D.C. and spent a month learning about public service.

Gabriella ’19 held lunch sessions to talk with fellow Bay students about regional politics.

At St. Albans the number one thing I heard from politicians, teachers, and think tank experts is that civics education has fallen out of classrooms completely. Voter turnout has been dropping since the sixties, with young people in particular not voting. This was a midterm year, so I thought it would be a good time to bring Bay students into this. I’ve done sessions on midterm and national politics with input from Ms. Workman as I thought about how to shape what I wanted to do. Then I took the Mathematics of Democracy Immersive, which re-upped my excitement, especially about local elections. For my latest session, I focused on local and state politics. All of this is helping to fulfill a pledge I made to bring more civics education into Bay.

And what policy issue are you most interested in?
I’m really passionate about public transportation and social justice and policy surrounding those areas. The way issues about diversity, equity and inclusion affect everything, including transportation, is really fascinating. For example, the city of Santa Clara has a program through which homeless people can apply for free public transportation that gives them access to services. In a low-density place like Marin, where various services are spread out, having this type of program would allow more people to get the services they need.

How are you carrying this interest to your Senior Signature Project?
Right now for my senior project, I’m working with transportation. I was a rider on The Golden Gate Transit System for my first three years at Bay. And I enjoyed it but I found there wasn’t enough information being given to the rider. For example, Muni provides real-time tracking on your phone, which is really useful. So I decided to work with local transportation authorities to gather qualitative data and figure out what riders of Golden Gate Transit need or want. I’ve conducted about 50 interviews to date. At the end, I want to present to the Golden Gate Transit Board on the data I’ve gathered. I’ve analyzed all this data and created three personas based on patterns, representing three types of people who use the system and what they need. And I want to share those needs with them and see if they may want to use these personas for future surveys.

What do you want to study to further develop your interests in college?I think I need to know more about economic systems. Economics and statistics. I am a big picture person and have a lot of political opinions but I don’t fully understand how the stats and economics operate within them. Through classes right now, Comparative Government and American Dream, I’m learning a little bit about how economic systems work, but I think I need to know a lot more.

What are some of the most important things you learned at Bay? What challenged you most?
 In Mathematics of Democracy, I learned a lot about issues related to politics, but I only knew about vote counting and the intricacies of gerrymandering at a superficial level. Comparative Philosophy in my junior year was my most challenging class at Bay. In that class, we looked at lots of different philosophers and their ideas and it really made me think about my life and how I as an individual fit into community and society and how I can philosophically and morally navigate my life. I really learned about persevering and I think that experience is a really good model of how Bay challenges students. Every day something I read made me go through some personal realization, which was really exciting and really exhausting.