Welcome to Women in Politics: College Edition, where promising women leaders in student government on college and university campuses across the country will be featured on msnbc.com. Ariel Koren has been nominated to represent the University of Pennsylvania as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.
As part of msnbc’s “Women in Politics” series, these hand-selected women become part of a larger discussion of women candidates and women’s issues on a national level. “Women in Politics” features newsmaker interviews, profiles, photos, and deep dives into the key conversations.
From the Ivy Leagues to the Big Ten to liberal arts colleges and beyond, young women are making a difference across the country – meet them here!
School: Rutgers University
Hometown: Teaneck, New Jersey
Concentration: Political Science, Minors; Mandarin Chinese, Global Studies
Role in Student Government: Rutgers University Student Body Vice President, United States Student Association National Women’s Coalition Chair
Dream job: Senator Elect and President of the United States of America
Class year: 2016
What is your biggest challenge as a leader on campus?
As a female leader on campus my biggest challenge is ensuring that politics is a place where every voice is heard and that it is a place where more women feel comfortable. This is why I take the positions I do, to show not only other aspiring female student leaders but the entire student body, that it is okay to be a woman with a voice and an initiative. It is also okay to be a minority and have a dream to make a difference, and to have the conviction to make any dream you have into a reality.
Which female leaders do you draw inspiration from?
I have many female leaders that I draw inspiration from, my first and most influential is my mother. She has made me into the woman I am today, and I know that without her I would not be half the person I am. She has given me every tool I have ever needed to succeed in life and for that I am forever grateful. Whenever I had a dream, if I brought the ambition she gave me the resources I needed to turn that dream into a reality. Oprah Winfrey is another monumental inspiration for my faith in how far I can go in life. I have read many books written by her, my favorite being "What I Know For Sure." I also admire Carol Moseley Braun who was the first African-American female to serve as US Senator. Both of their life stories and ambition to overcome obstacles in their lives resonates with me in many ways. So often I have been told I cannot achieve something because I am an African-American woman. It takes faith, like I have learned from Oprah, Carol Mosely Braun, and my mother, and a whole lot of ambition to overcome this and achieve my goals.
Do you plan to run for office one day?
I intend on running for the Mayor’s office of my hometown in Teaneck, New Jersey one day. Another large aspiration of mine is to be a Senator in the state of New Jersey. I have been student senate leader in the past for Rutgers University senate, and it is one of my favorite positions I have ever held. The stories that I hear from people whose lives that I have changed while at Rutgers, is not only the reason I aspire to run for office, but what I think would make me a great candidate in my future endeavors.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever gotten?
The best professional advice I have ever gotten is from my father who told me to always believe in myself. My father always encourages me when I am either afraid, or questioning my own capabilities as a student leader. For example, when I was asked to introduce the former executive director of Global innovation for NIKE at the Mark Conference this past semester in front of 400 of my fellow students and Rutgers staff members I was a little scared. Afraid, I called him 5 minutes before I went on stage, and he ensured me of instances where I have done well speaking in front of a large crowd before. Not only that, but that I should remember how many people believe in me, and most importantly that I should believe in myself. He has always pushed me in slight moments of fear, and thanks to him, I know that I am capable of anything. This is more of a reassurance, from one of the most important people in my life, that no matter what challenge I face, I have people in my corner who have faith in me but most importantly I have faith in myself.
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism to me means equality across the board. It means that every person no matter what they look like nor identify as, should not be treated any differently from anyone else. I pride myself as being a feminist on campus, because this means a great deal to me as being a female student leader at Rutgers University. It is not only ensuring that women are treated fairly, but that every person is treated fairly and is given a fair chance to achieve their dreams.
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com