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Hey, Y.A.L.L.—Let’s Vote!


Mount Student Selected for Nationwide Young Adult Voter Advocacy Program

In a world of political turmoil where news channels constantly retell and replay the unfortunate events of the day’s headlines and cell phones are drowned in upsetting notification after notification, it’s no wonder our young people are often turned off by political figureheads and forego the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.

That’s changing here at the University of Mount Saint Vincent, one student at a time.

We’re proud to share that Mount student Ishara Baez ’25 is one of ten students from around the nation to have been selected to participate in NETWORK Advocates for Catholic Social Justice’s new program, the Young Advocates Leadership Lab (Y.A.L.L.).

Through her participation in the Y.A.L.L program, Ishara will join her college-aged peers as they learn the ins and outs of political ministry at the federal level. Joining fellow young justice-seekers, the Y.A.L.L. cohort will share resources and be guided as they learn to “meddle in politics” in pursuit of a more inclusive democracy.

NETWORK is a Washington, DC-based advocacy organization founded over 50 years ago by Catholic Sisters from congregations across the country. Since 1972, NETWORK has grown from a small lobby of Catholic Sisters into an ever-growing faith-based political advocacy organization. With a mission of caring for the common good, tens of thousands of members—women and men, secular and religious alike—unite across the country to advocate for federal policies that advance racial and economic justice in the areas of healthcare, housing, immigration, and more.

The Sisters of Charity of New York are no strangers to NETWORK, kept abreast of their work and opportunities through the partnership of Carol De Angelo, SC, Director of the Office of Peace, Justice, and Integrity of Creation for the Sisters of Charity of New York. Sr. Carol is constantly finding ways for NETWORK to connect to the Congregation, their Associates, and the University at large. Whatever the issue, NETWORK is lobbying for debatable items that impact the quality of life of all Americans—which aligns directly with the Sisters’ efforts to respond to the signs of the times in all they say and do.

When she received word of NETWORK’s search for students to apply for the Y.A.L.L. program, she sent it to Conor Reidy, the Mount’s Director for Mission and Ministry, almost immediately.

“Once I sent the Y.A.L.L. program search profile to Conor, everything happened so quickly,” shared Sr. Carol. “Conor shared the profile to a few students he thought might be interested, and Ishara was eager to learn more.”

A junior nursing major from right here in the Bronx, Ishara is the first to admit that she was never really active in civic engagement.

“I was hesitant at first,” Ishara admitted. “But, as I reflected on the opportunity, I saw the depth of the issues at hand and knew that I wanted to make a difference. It’s a way for me to do my part to tell my peers that their vote matters.”

The Y.A.L.L. cohort will meet weekly and serve as peer civic educators on their respective campuses, organizing multi-issue voter workshops, voter registration drives, and other voter-based events this election year.

First up on Ishara’s docket was a kick-off event and voter registration drive, which was held on the University of Mount Saint Vincent campus on April 18.

Ishara was joined by two NETWORK colleagues and they helped her learn the ins and outs of how to operate a voter registration drive and how to explain the importance of multi-issue voting to her peers.

“I had so many great conversations with many members of the Mount community who want to get engaged with the moving world around them and, moreover, make educated and informed decisions,” Ishara reflected. “I am really looking forward to being a part of more meaningful conversations in the future as I continue my role on campus.”

Outside of her upcoming work with NETWORK, Ishara is one of the Mount’s devoted Seton Service and Leadership Program scholars. In exchange for volunteering a certain amount of her time each semester to a service project of her choosing, Ishara receives the opportunity to live on campus at no cost—something that deeply benefits her family when considering the financial strain of paying for college.

In her own words, Ishara’s been “volunteering since I’ve been able to walk!”

“As a nursing student, I am also driven to advocacy because of my passion for healthcare equity and equal healthcare access,” Ishara added. “I hope to serve and empower the members of my community, which starts with raising awareness, educating, and advocating for a more engaged society.”

Participating in the Seton Service and Leadership Program was a no-brainer. In addition to her Y.A.L.L. program work, Ishara is passionate about ecological justice and caring for our Earth. She regularly participates in our “Green Team” campus clean ups.

When asked about connecting his work as Director for Mission and Ministry back to the grassroots work our students perform, Conor wasn’t shy to discuss how proud he is of our students’ bravery.

“My role is to believe in our students and get them animated about issues they care deeply about,” Conor explained. “I remind them to consider the ‘two feet’ of social justice: physical acts of service are worthy and important, but going deeper to perform that advocacy work helps us find the solutions to the problems the people we serve are facing.”

Ishara will continue to bring what she learns in her weekly Y.A.L.L. program meetings to campus through the end of this semester, at which point the program will take a Summer hiatus and continue at the start of the Fall semester in August. But, before the Summer break, Ishara and her Y.A.L.L. peers will be tasked with actively participating in managing NETWORK’s social media outreach to young Catholics across the country—opening dialogues in their communities and encouraging their peers to join in NETWORK’s intergenerational advocacy efforts.

Sr. Carol also hopes Ishara will play an active role in the Sisters’ Voting and Antiracism Committee, which is comprised of a group of Sisters and Associates who brainstorm ways to tackle these issues in our community today.

Central to the missions of both the University and the Sisters, Ishara is creating opportunities for today’s youth to care for our common humanity—one vote at a time. While her work with NETWORK’s Y.A.L.L. program has only just begun, she’s got a lot of work ahead of her this election year. We’re proud of all that Ishara is committed to in order to educate her fellow Mount Saint Vincent students on the importance of multi-issue voting, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers a nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the University equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment, and leadership in the 21st century.