Many teenagers perceive politics as either a stream of intangible Instagram stories or an abstract mess reserved for adults. However, Lily Arangio (’23) actively combats this perception by combining her extracurricular commitments with dynamic involvement in local and national government.
Arangio first joined the Future Medical Students Association at the start of her Saint Francis journey. She then expanded her involvement to Animal Welfare Club and Environmental Club, and later founded Global Health Club. “I started Global Health Club sophomore year because it is a perfect merging of my interests,” she explained.
Her interests in health and humanitarian work translated to political activism. Arangio emphasized that events from the summer of 2020 solidified an already growing affinity for the field.
Currently, she constructs policy memos, which are “essentially brief rundowns on issues and the possible solutions.” Her most recent memo submission to the Santa Clara County government in coordination with her work for a county commission, for instance, focused on creating a “safer environment” for women and minority students who face bias-related incidents in local school districts.
Arangio is also the outreach coordinator for the San Jose chapter of March for Our Lives. The acclaimed nonprofit organization works to mitigate gun violence by advocating for stricter gun control laws and empowering youth to participate in decision making regarding gun policies.
March for Our Lives not only provided an outlet for advocacy, but was also a valuable life experience for Arangio. “A skill that I’ve learned is being nonpartisan. March for Our Lives has challenged me to reach across the aisle and really focus on an issue and not the party that the issue is commonly associated with,” she said.
In an effort to close the gender gap in politics, Arangio founded Empolitics, a nonprofit organization. At Empolitics’ public policy program last summer, female and non-binary youth crafted their own policy recommendations and sent them to representatives in both state and national legislatures.
Remarkably, prior experience is unnecessary for political participation, according to Arangio — she herself had never worked in public policy before drafting her first memo. Thus, she believes that everyone possesses the potential to create change.
Although government affairs are convoluted at times, Arangio encourages her peers to express their opinions and become politically engaged. “A lot of politicians are starting to realize the power of youth in government,” she said. “So they are very open, especially to ideas from the youth.”