She sat quietly scrolling through her phone. With the close of summer, Freeporter and Sacred Heart Academy alumnae, Gardenia Molina has been anxiously preparing to start her senior year at Molloy College.
“I’m ready to graduate,” Molina with a smile. “I’ve been working hard all summer at Senator John Brooks office as an intern. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do more work, especially for my hometown, Freeport.”
All summer, Molina has been getting her firsthand experience in government and community outreach working as an intern at Brooks’ office. Majoring in social work, she immediately says she’s not studying social work to work with Nassau County Department of Social Services and she is certain she doesn’t want to work with children and families. Her goals are to become involved in social justice and be a voice for those who can’t advocate for themselves.
The oldest of five sibling and daughter of El Salvador immigrants, Molina is the first one in her family to attend and soon graduate from college. Stepping into her senior year, the young mother of a three-year-old girl says by graduating from college she is able to provide a positive role model for her siblings and daughter.
Proud of her Central American roots, Molina says she wants to graduate from college and stay in Freeport to help the Latino community.
“Freeport is so diverse and there are so many Latinos here. I want to help them feel connected to our community leaders and politicians,” Molina said. “I believe once we can break down the communication barriers and make them feel more connected to our community they will feel more at ease when meeting community leaders.”
Working at Brooks’ office since late June, Molina says it’s a privileged for her to work so closely with the senator and his staff. Before her internship she had never considered politics and their importance to the community. Now at the start of the fall semester and her internship trickling in to her senior year, she’s eager to continue learning and graduate.
“Working with communities not only empowers people on an individual level, but it helps to change and break systemic barriers,” Molina said. “My experience in Senator Brooks’ office has given me the opportunity to participate in social change and community awareness. Something very important to me.”