Gabriel Soliz, a student at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, is a student leader who valiantly serves his school and community. Issues close to his heart include animal rights, children’s literacy, and greater funding for schools in impoverished neighborhoods. Currently, Gabriel volunteers at the Humane Society and Open Books Chicago. After graduating from Wilbur Wright with his associate’s degree, Gabriel plans to transfer to a university so he can study political science and then proceed to law school. Gabriel wishes to carve out a career in public policy, so he can advocate on behalf of schools and students desperately needing equitable resources. He was born and raised in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood.
I’m from the westside of Chicago, West Humboldt Park, to be exact. My family lived next to a corner store where you could arrive with one dollar and walk home with four bags of chips. I spent most of my time playing with the neighborhood kids at a nearby park and rarely showing up for school on time. Life was good back then. I thought I was living in the best neighborhood in Chicago.
Today things are different. When I step outside my house, I do not see a community. My neighborhood is surrounded by drugs, gun violence, and poverty. A sense of hopelessness sets in.
The problems that plague my community, however, are nothing new. It was not until recently that I decided to act. At my father's insistence, I returned to school. I started volunteering at local charities that made a difference right in my neighborhood.
The Newman Fellowship is an opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals personally and professionally. The fellowship is a first step towards developing strategies to improve not only my community but all of Chicago. Newman provides an opportunity to come together and influence social change on a greater scale.