DLSU sophomore talks about her inspiration for joining government
AT 19-years-old, college student Michelle Mae Gonzales has ddone more for her community in Taguig City than most of her elders who are capable of helping others.
This is because she knows the problems and concerns that affect her fellow youths and goes out to do something about them.
Gonzales, presently a sophomore student at the De La Salle University (DLSU) has been an active force of change in her community since her days as a high school student in Assumption College.
Though sheltered at the exclusive school for girls, she had long been exposed to her mother’s charity works in Taguig City through a foundation called Munting Hakbang para sa Kinabukasan at Kaunlaran. A non-governmental and non-profit organization, Munting Hakbang visits the different neighborhoods of Taguig City that are in need of help, and extends medical and dental missions and other outreach programs that cover self-development and livelihood projects among others.
“I was very shy in school, but when I started going around Taguig with my mom and meeting so many different people who would open up to me about their lives, I suddenly felt a connection with them and found my voice,” Gonzales told The Sunday Times Magazine. “That was when I told myself that I wanted to take an active part in improving the lives of those around me, beginning with young people like me.”
As the academic achiever spent more time for and with her community, she soon found herself elected as Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman of Barangay Western Bicutan, Taguig City, which effectively secured a seat for her in the city council. Thriving in the position from 2010 to 2013, when the SK was discontinued across the country, Gonzales spearheaded projects that addressed what she describes as “all aspects of life” in her district.
“You only need to go out and see what people are going through, which is why I made sure to tackle diverse conditions when I was elected to the SK. I ran medical missions, feeding programs, reading programs, sports festivals, aid for fire and typhoon victims, cleanup drives, distribution of free school supplies and vocational scholarship programs for out of school youths, among many others.”
As her projects grew bigger and became more significant, Gonzales simultaneously went up the SK ladder and was even elected by her peers as Sangguniang Kabataan Secretary General of the Philippines.
Involved in national level projects for the youth by then, she was one of the strongest voices in congress who opposed the temporary discontinuation of the Sangguniang Kabataan, but accepted the Senate’s final decision on the matter.
“While I continue to do community work without my position in the SK, I believe that an elected position provides a person with a bigger opportunity to effect change in society, not only through outreach programs, but in actually establishing and implementing laws to better their lives.”
Despite scandals that continue to rock government today, Gonzales still sees herself running for public office someday, because she believes that people cannot do without a leader.
“Someone who will act on what needs to be done and in the process inspire others to do the same,” she explained. “Yes, it’s all about corruption in the news today but as part of the youth, I need to believe there is hope for the future—and maybe that better future will ultimately have to come from us.”
Michelle Mae Gonzales is currently serving as Over-all University Student Government Vice President for External Affairs for the De La Salle University Manila Campus and Science and Technology Campus in Canlubang. Her office provides all sorts of assistance to university students, from finding board and lodging for those who come from provinces, to helping coeds affected by floods and typhoons.