Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Major: considering a self-designed major in education policy and educational reform
How she got passionate about those issues: In high school, I worked for a non-profit organization called Mikva Challenge. They promote youth activism and youth involvement in politics. We created policies and recommendations for the CEO of Chicago Public Schools.
Why these issues matter: Education is an essential part of everyone’s lives. I want to make a better environment for students in the United States—more equality, more funding, more opportunities. I want to give back what I’ve been given.
How those passions fit (perfectly!) with her First-Year Initiatives Seminar at Beloit: My FYI was called Creating the Ideal High School. It was an awesome class. It was along the same lines of what I wanted to go into. I really had a passion for it. For a final project, we made a proposal of what our ideal high school would be.
What she’s proposing: Students should be able to make some sort of decisions in their high schools, like choosing new teachers or principals, because we’re the ones affected most by a transition in the school. There needs to be student input.
How Beloit values student input: I’ve been able to speak out about issues that I care about. Anytime I get a writing assignment, I’m always writing about equality and education and rights. I love how Beloit College gives you that open space.
Something else Janelle is passionate about: I’m involved in Voces Latinas on campus. We promote awareness about Hispanic heritage and issues going on with the community. Knowing that there are students on campus who have the same passions as I do is great.
We’re doing things with immigration and undocumented students, like holding a vigil for the Dream Act. It’s something powerful, and some students may not have had the opportunity to see these issues from the perspective of a Latino student.
How Beloit’s helped Janelle succeed as a first-generation college student: TRIO is a family. I know these people understand where I’m coming from. For things like financial aid, courses, or what I’m doing after college, TRIO really helped me find resources.
How she finds support everywhere on campus: Beloit has a great support system. The professors really care; they very passionately love what they do and they make sure that you are on top of things yourself. I also like that, my first year, I was able to choose what I wanted to take. Automatically, I could study what I wanted or what I liked. That’s what really helped me transition to college: loving my classes and looking forward to going to them every day.