As we have each and every January, we’re again starting the new year off on a very positive note, introducing you to ten extraordinary local individuals under the age of 40 who are making a name for themselves and for Worcester County itself ~ they are athletes, students, activists, entrepreneurs, artists, and more, all working towards making our community a stronger, more united, more vibrant one. Choosing these individuals was not an easy task, and we [happily!] received from you, our readers, so many nominations for other outstanding members of our community. But please join us now in congratulating “The Ten” for their contributions thus far and in looking forward to what this exceptional group is sure to accomplish in the future.
Kristin Bates: Owner, gobare Salon
By Leeanne Griffin
Kristin Bates is making Worcester County more beautiful ~ one gorgeous eyelash and perfectly waxed eyebrow at a time.
The 28 year old area native opened gobare, a professional salon in the emerging Canal District specializing in waxing, eyelash extensions and makeup, in early 2009.
“We’ve had a really good response so far,” says Bates. “We’ve grown faster than expected. From July to September, we received 75 new clients, and we’ve been steadily growing ever since.”
gobare focuses on waxing and lashes because those are the services Bates is most passionate about. She and employee Kristie Lee McCaffrey are Xtreme Lashes eyelash-extension stylists, certified after undergoing what Bates calls a “rigorous training and certification process.”
They’re the only professionals in the Worcester area working with this system. “People no longer have to drive all the way to Providence or Boston for this service,” she said.
Bates was born in Worcester and raised in Shrewsbury. After graduating from UMass-Amherst in 2004 with a marketing degree, she furthered her education at Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics in Woburn, completing 1,200 hours of study.
Worcester was the perfect location for her new business, Bates said. “I saw an opportunity that the city didn’t yet have,” she said. “It’s been great to have a dream of mine come true in my birthplace.”
She had envisioned opening her salon in a renovated mill, she said, and was thrilled to find the right spot on Harding Street, with high ceilings and large windows. She says she’s “very proud” to be a part of the Canal District’s renaissance, marked by the opening of new restaurants, bars, clubs and boutiques.
Bates, who is “very protective” of her hometown, says she hopes to become more active in Worcester’s community as her business expands.
“Worcester is unique, and it needs to find its own personality and positive force to drive people to come and stay here,” she said.
And her advice to the area’s young population? “Don’t ever assume there’s nothing to do in Worcester,” she says. “That’s just not true. Get out and see what the city has to offer.”
gobare, 87 Harding Street, Worcester, 508-799-8833, www.gobare.us
Dante Comparetto, Treasurer of the Worcester Cultural Commission
By Tine Roycroft
It’s no secret that times are tough in the US. With last year’s horrendous economic downslide, cities across the nation have been looking for ways to cut back and ~ more often than not ~ arts programs are the first to go. Luckily, Worcester has 26 year old Dante Comparetto, Treasurer of the Worcester Cultural Commission, to help residents and local government officials alike realize how important the arts are.
“Many scholars are convinced that when you focus on creating livable cities,” Comparetto explains, “it translates to economic development because you are getting talent and retaining talent. In Worcester’s case ~ we have all these colleges and universities but the problem is the brain drain ~ the student leaves upon graduation. We need to retain this talent.”
Through his work on the Cultural Commission, Comparetto and the other members of the board help allocate funds for various cultural and artistic organizations. For example, if an artist would like to bring an exhibit to the Worcester Public Library, the Commission can assist him or her in finding the funding to make that vision a reality. Comparetto also takes an active role in Worcester’s amazing “Art in the Park” project which takes place in the historic Elm Park and calls attention to the creations of several Central MA artisans.
“Public art is such an important thing for Worcester in general,” Comparetto says. “It just helps raise the living standards and makes it an even more beautiful place to live.”
Our boy Comparetto is no newcomer to politics ~ he started upon the political path at 17 and went on to become involved in the Democratic Party. He worked on various individuals’ campaigns, including Governor Deval Patrick’s. But despite great success on the national level, Comparetto wanted to step back and try government on a local level. At 23, he became involved in the fight against global warming by going door-to-door and asking residents to subscribe to National Grid’s “Green Up” Program. Through donations, the city was able to create an Energy Manager position.
At this time in his political career, Comparetto is focusing on earning his degree in Urban Studies at Worcester State College. He plans to attend UMASS Amherst for his graduate degree in the future and is very excited about a possible next step in Worcester’s local government: neighborhood councils.
“If you have neighborhood councils, they might be better in dealing with issues you are having in your immediate area. It just gets more people involved in the process which supports the overall good,” Comparetto says. “We’re looking at the bigger picture ~ how we can utilize the neighborhoods’ councils to even get more accurate census counts, for example. About 40% of our population is currently not counted in the census, which means less federal money.”
Even with the work ahead, Comparetto is passionate about his love for this city. He’s especially excited about his most recent achievement – being elected to the board of directors of the Worcester Public Library.
“I was born in Worcester,” he says, “I see so much potential in Worcester. It’s a sleeping giant waiting to be awakened. I’d rather be here and make it even better than to live in a huge city somewhere else.”
Dominic King: A Voice for Veterans
By Leeanne Griffin
Nobody can truly understand a veteran’s experiences unless he or she has been through the same ordeals. That’s why Worcester native Dominic King, who completed two tours of Iraq with the Marine Corps, is becoming a priceless resource to his fellow veterans returning to Massachusetts.
King, 26, was medically discharged from the Marines in 2006 and resumed his studies at Assumption College. While trying to receive treatment from VA doctors for serious back problems, he ran into a series of bureaucratic obstacles. This motivated him and fellow Marine Kenneth Isaksen to do something to help veterans of their generation ~ those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Older veterans from previous wars have their own priorities,” said King. “This was meant to be something that focused on our issues.”
In July 2009, they launched Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) Veterans of Massachusetts. The organization, described on its website as “an innovative program that acts as a voice for veterans,” seeks to advocate aggressively for legislation, educate the state’s people about the “real-life costs” associated with the wars and act as liaisons for veterans attempting to navigate benefits processes. The organization is based out of the State House in Boston.
Citing his own frustrating encounters, King said he understands why veterans sometimes give up. “We wanted to fight on their behalf ~ help them set up appointments, go over paperwork, whatever they need,” he said.
OIF/OEF fought hard for a recent bill ~ signed into law in November – that improves and protects benefits for veterans. The bill enhances the probability of soldiers serving abroad receiving and being able to return absentee ballots. (King, who was serving overseas in 2004, received an absentee ballot for that year’s Presidential election six months late.)
It also increases a “Welcome Home” bonus to apply to subsequent tours of duty, and facilitates veterans’ re-entry into the workforce by authorizing state licensing boards to recognize skills acquired during military service.
Beyond advocating for returning vets, King and OIF/OEF want to ensure that those who didn’t make it home are never forgotten. They are working on creating an interactive war memorial to be displayed at the State House, honoring Massachusetts soldiers killed in action in the Theater of Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“We want people to see the faces of these fallen soldiers, to look into their eyes and remember that they’re sons, daughters, fathers…we hope it will make people remember,” King said.
Amy Lynn Chase (aka Punky), owner, Haberdash
By Linnea Sheldon
Call her what you will ~ Punky, Punks, Amy Lynn Chase ~ but just don’t call her conventional.
This 29 year old Worcester native has been doing her own thing and making her own rules for years. Credit manager by day, bartender by night, and blogger and “Haberdasher” all times in between, she’s got a lot on her plate, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Born and raised here in the city, she lives, eats, and sleeps Worcester, so purchasing her first home in the Grafton Hill section of town was the next logical step. Her new home allowed her to expand her already impressive collection of vintage clothing and accessories, and this is where the story of the Haberdash begins.
“The idea for the store came in February 2009 when I was outgrowing my vintage storage,” Punky explained. “I really wanted to open a brick and mortar, but I couldn’t find anything unique, or really worth putting money into.”
While joking around one night she came up with the idea of selling vintage on the road. At first it seemed a little far-fetched, but never one to let a little challenge hold her back, Punky immediately began scouring eBay and the Want Ads for vintage trailers.
“Once I found the perfect vintage trailer it took me a few weeks of begging to get the classic car collector to sell it to me,” she said. “As soon as it was delivered I began working on redesigning the interior to work for a shop.”
Her 1954 Bellwood trailer became the Haberdash, her traveling vintage shop, and since its grand opening in June it has made its way to numerous markets, fairs, and private parties. Due to such a high demand, Punky has also developed the Haberdash website (www.haberdashvintage.com) where fashion junkies near and far will be able to get their hands on her unique finds.
Aside from her own blog ~ www.punkystyle.com ~ it seems Punky and the Haberdash have been everywhere in the past year. She has been featured in the Boston Globe, Bay State Parent Magazine, Improper Bostonian, and Stuff Boston, as well as on “Chronicle” and Channel 7 News. She was also named one of “Fashion Boston’s Best Dressed.”
Punky’s clothing swaps (bring an item ~ or bag! ~ of clothing that you don’t want and pick out something from what others have brought ~ one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!) have also become a huge hit. The best part of these swaps (aside from free clothes) is that all the extras are donated to local charities. “Anyone can attend the Swaps,” she explained. “The Swapaholics have donated 72 bags of clothing to a local charity in Worcester this year alone, and we have many more in the works for next year.” (For more information on swapping, visit www.theswapaholics.com.)
All of the Worcester Swaps are held in the Canal District. According to Punky, they help bring in hundreds of people from out-of-town. “The Swappers are given maps of the area, and we work with canal district businesses to offer discounts for the swappers,” she said.
Like the Swaps, Haberdash has done all its Worcester events in the Canal District, working together with Alexis Grace and other local shops and bars to promote the district. Punky was also recently named to the Canal District Committee and is working on a Canal District music fest for 2010.
As far as the future, Punky is open to new possibilities. “I see a busy, busy year ahead,” she said. “I would love for Haberdash be my only focus. It has been really well received and I would love to see what I could make of this business. I’m also dabbling in styling and thinking that would be another avenue I would love to explore. After all is said and done, I would also love to adopt a bunny.”
Photo by Adam Towner
Mike Benedetti ~ Host, WCCA’s “508”
By Linnea Sheldon
Mike Benedetti has been working to make our city a better place for eight years now. He originally hails from Glen Dale, West Virginia, graduated from Caltech with a degree in Physics, and sold software to investment banks in Manhattan before moving to Worcester in 2002.
“I came to Worcester to serve the homeless as part of the Catholic Worker community,” Benedetti explained. “So I expected Worcester to be a city full of problems, and less exciting than where I was coming from. What I didn’t expect was that it would have so many amazing people, and such a culture of ‘making your own fun.’ All these years later, I’m still blown away.”
Benedetti’s list of community service is extensive. He spent half of 2009 working to close the Guantanamo prison as part of Witness Against Torture. He continues helping the homeless and opposing war and violence with his involvement with Worcester’s S.S. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker community. He is also an active supporter of VegWorcester, a local vegetarian community.
He also finds many other ways to help the community. He does a weekly show entitled “508” with Brendan Melican, one of Pulse’s 2007’s People to Watch. Each week, the duo ~ and at times guests ~ discuss issues that are important to Worcester. The show often focuses on stories that are underreported or on perspectives that you won’t find in the daily paper. “508” airs on WCCA TV Channel 13 and can be found online at www.pieandcoffee.org.
“At the moment we’re part of the effort to report more ‘hard stories’ from within Worcester’s community of bloggers,” Benedetti said. “There’s no reason to think print journalism won’t continue to fade; we think independent, amateur writers can pick up part of the slack.”
Benedetti is also an avid hiker and outdoorsman. He was one of the first 40 people to through-hike the “Triple Crown” of American backpacking. In 2002, he hiked the Appalachian Trail. It was 2,200 miles from Maine to Georgia. In 2003, he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, 2,700 miles from Mexico to Canada. In 2004, he hiked the Continental Divide Trail, about 2,800 miles from Canada to Mexico.
Benedetti was able to do some soul-searching while hiking for such long periods of time. While he didn’t have any life changing moments while hiking the first two, he finally gained some insight into himself on the final trail. “When I least expected it, on the CDT, I finally gained some serious self-knowledge,” he explained. ”I don’t think I’m necessarily a different person, but I know much more about the person who I am.”
Benedetti isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. This year he’s going back to D.C. to work towards ending indefinite detention and torture. He also has plenty of video projects lined up, as well a book in the works.
Gina Migliozzi: MassConcerts’ Metal Maven
By Leeanne Griffin
Worcester-area metalheads and lovers of live music have Gina Migliozzi to thank for helping to revitalize the now-thriving local scene.
Migliozzi, 39, is the general manager of MassConcerts, which owns and operates The Palladium in Worcester (and recently acquired the Webster Theatre in Hartford, CT). In this role, she’s brought countless live acts to The Palladium’s stage, everything from local groups to some of the industry’s most famous names.
A native of Easthampton, Mass., Migliozzi played gigs in a high school band at Katina’s, a club in nearby Hadley. She ended up working at the club, getting her first taste of concert promoting and talent booking. Later, she became the manager of Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton. From there, she went on the road with the band Over Kill for several years as their tour manager.
“It was an amazing experience, lots of responsibility…I traveled to all of these places I never would have seen in my lifetime otherwise…Turkey, Russia,” she said. “But at the same time it was kind of like a rolling locker room, not always comfortable for a woman.”
She brought her extensive experience to The Palladium in the late 1990s, where she and her staff have since brought in a virtual who’s who of metal acts, not to mention Bob Dylan (“…on one night’s notice,” Migliozzi said) and Prince, who kicked off his “Hit & Run” tour at the venue in 2000.
Along with WAAF’s Kevin Barbare, Migliozzi, now a long-time Worcester resident, also co-founded the Rock and Shock Festival, a combination horror convention/multi-band concert housed between the DCU Center and the Palladium. It’s now in its sixth year and is known country-wide, if not world-wide, for its star-studded combination of horror and music.
“Metal music and the horror genre just seemed like a natural blend,” Migliozzi says. “It’s been very successful, we’ve seen a really great turnout and now we do get bigger names,” like actor Malcolm MacDowell and director John Landis, who headlined the 2009 event. Each event brings fans from around the country, and local restaurants, bars, and hotels appreciate the huge spike in business when the Festival is in town.
Migliozzi also helps oversee the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival at The Palladium, a musical event that’s becoming “known worldwide,” she said. “Bands tend to plan their tour dates around this festival so they can be there.”
Worcester’s in a “great, central location,” says Migliozzi, who says that it’s becoming known as a “metal city.” “With the colleges, there’s a very good atmosphere, with people from everywhere…a very diverse population.”
In the future, she hopes to continue to promote The Palladium as a national destination venue for bands. “The staff here is awesome,” she said. “The crowds are fantastic, and we want this to be a place where bands look forward to playing.”
Jeff Royds: Creator, NewEnglandGarageBands.com
By Craig Lindberg
Ask local musicians about the biggest obstacle they face and about 99% would say, “Getting our music exposed to the masses.” Talent is only part of the equation ~ it’s exposure, getting the music out there ~ that is critical to the big “C” word: Career.
Jeff Royds, 36, and his NewEnglandGarageBands.com website are now one of the most powerful forces behind that equation, and the list of bands he has already helped is, to say the least, impressive. In fact, many of us got to know NEGB as Boston Garage Bands, but due to the growing popularity of the site, Jeff decided to change the name to New England Garage Bands on Jan. 1.
The launch of NewEnglandGarageBands.com (again, at that time called BostonGarageBands.com) in April of 2007 opened up for local musicians an avenue that had previously been almost impossible to access: widespread exposure at little to no cost!
“NEGB offers local musicians the opportunity to create a profile to network for gigs, upload music and video, and access other avenues to promote their music,” states Jeff. Bands with no budgets get to have their music played 24/7 on NEGB ~ and if they become premium members, they get a web presence, their own site, email, mp3s, blogs, the works ~ and all without any annoying ads.
“As a local musician, I had always been frustrated by ‘The Industry’ and how hard it was to get a little recognition locally, never mind nationally.” One of the first contacts Jeff makes with a band is to invite them to be on his “Behind the Scenes” podcast show that can be found on the NEGB website and on the NEGB page in iTunes ~ this first interview is often what gives a band its first legitimate entry on its press kit and that starts the ball rolling for gigs, new fans, and a general buzz. And once they’re in the NEGB family, Jeff contacts them about gigs he thinks they may be right for, keeping them in the loop and sometimes even creating shows ~ called “NEGB Live” ~ specifically for his “stable” of bands. Also, he often takes on the often challenging role of liaison between club owners and musicians.
Jeff, who fronts and plays bass guitar for “Bullethead,”,a local rock band, firmly believes that local musicians are a community, and as such should look out for each other and do what they can to support and promote each other. “The site felt like something I had to do as well as wanted to do…It’s a lot of time and work, but it’s a true labor of love,” Jeff explains. This labor of love extends to doing charity work as well, as he recently organized a fundraiser to benefit diabetic research.
What does the future hold for NEGB? “We are revolutionizing the music industry.” That’s a bold statement, but Jeff is backing it up with an exciting new project: “NEGB is now making it possible for local bands to get their music on the Rock Band Network.”
Jeff recently struck a deal with Hit Play Creations of Boston to offer NEGB Premium members an amazing deal on translating their music into Rock Band readable formatting. “The Rock Band Network is going to be the next big thing in the industry,” explains Jeff. “Artists will be able to create actual ‘Rock Band’ video game ready versions of their songs, The Rock Band Network will allow the artists to upload these songs to be previewed and, if liked, downloaded and used with their own Rock Band game!” The partnership with Hit Play, who found Jeff on the strength of NEGB, will give a very significant discount to members of the NEGB network of bands for the service.
If you are a local musician looking for superior networking and resources, look no further than newenglandgaragebands.com. Big things are happening…
Dominic Randolph ~ Holy Cross Quarterback
By Kim Dunbar
It’s not the impressive numbers or possible NFL career that will have Holy Cross senior quarterback Dominic Randolph remembered in Worcester lore. Rather, it will be his heart, which is even bigger than any of his stats.
Or right now, his belly. Randolph, 23, has just finished playing Santa Claus at the Big Brothers Big Sisters holiday party, handing out donated gifts and listening to the children’s wishes as they took turns sitting upon his knee. “I think the younger kids believed me,” he said.
This is the second year Randolph has played the jolly role. The fact that he enjoys it comes as no surprise, as the Amelia, Ohio native has been involved with the organization for three years. In the fall of 2006, Randolph—who grew up with two sisters—became a Big Brother to Franky Rodriguez, now 11 years old. “I never had a big brother, so I thought it would be fun to join,” said Randolph. “It was the chance to help influence a kid’s life,” he added.
Randolph encouraged his teammates to do the same; along with former teammate and co-captain Daryl Brown, the quarterback rounded up 50 teammates and snuffed out the BBBS of Central Massachusetts’s two year wait list. In January 2009, the two were awarded the Deranian Fellowship Award, BBBS’s highest award presented each year to an outstanding volunteer mentor.
“We told them that we are blessed with what we have and not as many people get the same opportunities,” said Randolph. “Kids look up to us, so it’s a win-win situation,” he added.
Thanks in part to Randolph ~ who was cheered on by his little brother Rodriguez at several home games this year ~ the Crusaders topped off a 9-3 season with the team’s first NCAA playoff berth in 26 years. While the city is once again abuzz with Holy Cross football, the nation’s eyes are on Randolph who has recently been the object of many NFL scouting visits and the most talked-about Crusader since 1987 when Gordie Lockbaum finished third in the Heisman Trophy race.
In his four years on College Hill, Randolph, an unprecedented three-time team captain and a Walter Payton Award candidate, has left his mark in the record books, now leading categories such as touchdown passes, total offensive yards, and completion passes, attempts and percentage. But he’s also hit the school books hard; he was slated to complete his accounting degree in December.
Randolph will enter the 2010 NFL Entry Draft in April, but because the QB hails from a small school, he will most likely be a late pick in the draft or scooped up as a free agent afterward. However, if history is any indication, a late pick doesn’t mean much (look no further than New England Patriots quarterback and sixth rounder Tom Brady) or being from a small school (Dallas Stars QB Tony Romo attended Eastern Illinois University where he won the Walter Payton Award).
While Randolph’s future in the NFL is uncertain, his relationship with Rodriguez is crystal clear. “We’ll definitely stay in touch,” said Randolph. “I plan on being a positive influence in his life.”
It sounds like no matter how far Randolph goes in the NFL, he’ll always want to be remembered as Franky’s Big Brother.
Kaz Gamble ~ Musician, Producer, Filmmaker
By Tine Roycroft
Kaz Gamble, musical producer and filmmaker, returned to his hometown of Worcester in 2006. After attending the Tisch School of the Arts in New York and living in NYC, he took his talent to Los Angeles. The opportunities were amazing, but Gamble, 32, was drawn back to his original hood with a purpose.
“I wanted to create a documentary on the life of a city,” Gamble remembers. “How it’s created, how it survives, urban renewal. Worcester was where I wanted to do it. New York was too much of a city. L.A. was too spread out. Worcester was perfect.”
Gamble set out to create the documentary using old film from Worcester’s past and interviews from residents. As the interviews piled up, Gamble realized he had another amazing project on his hands ~ WorcesterLove.com, a video guide to Central Massachusetts.
“Andrea Ajemian [co-host of Worcester Love] and I wanted to create something similar to ‘New England’s Chronicle,’ but really stylize it and make it appealing to a younger audience,” Gamble says. “And I wanted it on the web.”
“Worcester Love” showcases the jewels of the area ~ the Halloween Outlet, the Worcester Tornadoes, Brookfield Apple Orchards. Gamble and Ajemian are the hosts of the show. Their passion and senses of humor on film are encouraging out-of-towners to take a closer look at Worcester.
“Apparently, WPI was very interested in a professor who lived in the Mid West,” Gamble says. “This woman had no idea about the city, but she found Worcester Love and watched the entire season. She ended up taking the job and moving here. That made me very proud.”
Gamble has produced episodes on locally owned businesses as well as non-profits like Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary. And in the upcoming season of “Worcester Love,” he showcases the Many Hands Organic Farm in Barre, as well as the Community Harvest Program in Grafton. Gamble accepts no payment for showcasing these important organizations.
Apart from “Worcester Love,” this filmmaker has written and directed the short film “My Brother Tom,” which presents the story of Gamble’s younger brother and his struggle growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome. The personal and touching film was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2009 Woods Hole Film Festival and is posted on the website for the Asperger’s Association of New England.
Sweet, well-mannered Gamble has also experienced much success in music. He’s written and produced songs that have appeared in movies and television programs such as “Orange County,” “Uptown Girls,” and “The Real Cancun.” Gamble also recently wrote and produced all music for the Artigo/Ajemian Films flick “We Got the Beat,” an hilarious fictional indie film about Worcester’s first 80s boy band.
Gamble still travels back and forth to NYC and his schedule is so tightly packed it squeaks. But Gamble says he fully intends to stay in his favorite city and complete the next season of “Worcester Love.” As for the documentary concept that brought him back to Worcester, he continues to work diligently on the project. To date, Gamble has shot over 70 hours of footage focusing on urban renewal. The film will showcase the struggles our city has gone through, but also the renewed sense of livelihood, entrepreneurship, and energy currently it is currently enjoying.
For more information, visit www.kazgamble.com
Kola Akindele: Working For Worcester
By Leeanne Griffin
Kola A. Akindele knows firsthand how important it is to lead by example. After all, he’s had one spectacular role model.
Akindele, 29, was born in Worcester to Nigerian immigrants. During his childhood, his mother raised him and his siblings on a $4/hour assembly-line salary. She moved upward and onward, earning a Bachelor’s Degree and purchasing multifamily homes in Worcester. Young Kola, paying close attention to his mother’s hard work and accomplishments, went on to earn a law degree.
“My mother is my mentor, and many of her activities motivated me to do what I do,” Akindele said. “That’s how I became interested in immigration and real estate law.”
Akindele, an attorney and community advocate, made his first foray into local politics this past election season, running for a seat on Worcester’s City Council. Though he wasn’t elected, he said he was proud of his performance as a political newcomer.
“Worcester has the potential to become an even better city,” said Akindele of his beloved hometown. “We’ve got people from every socioeconomic class involved in working toward improvement.”
Akindele graduated from Holy Name High School in 1998 and earned a Bachelor’s Degree cum laude from the University of Massachusetts-Boston with a degree in economics and political science.
He earned his law degree at Northeastern University in 2006 and plans to return to Northeastern for a Ph.D. in law, policy and society sometime in the near future, in order to gain a “deeper understanding of public policy; how to fix some of our community problems,” he said.
Beyond furthering his education, Akindele is putting together a plan for a political internship program, catering to high school seniors and college freshmen with minority backgrounds. The program would pair students with local politicians, allowing them to “shadow” them during a typical workday.
Akindele, who shadowed a Connecticut state representative as a young student, says his own experience sparked his interest in politics.
“Everybody needs to be engaged in the political process,” he said. “This way, we can get students to become involved and interested early.”