Most students’ alarms go off with a beep. Miriam George’s, MCAS ’18, goes off with a crash— the 6:30 a.m. hauling of the dumpsters outside of Walsh. The cream-colored blind is rolled up, the empty Mod Lot and the silent spires of Gasson now visible through the modest light that creeps in her window. Within a half hour, George puts her backpack on and walks up the stairs in O’Neill to the fourth floor, where she’ll be for the next three hours until her first class at 10:30.
George’s passion for combating employment discrimination against minority citizens is what has driven her time at Boston College, and has motivated her to start the day with hours in the library before class—every single morning.
As a woman of color, it hits home. She has seen discrimination against her own parents, who she regards as the smartest and most hardworking people she knows. Both are doctors and have been harassed for their accents on multiple occasions. A coworker once told her father to “go back to India.”
“They have given everything up for me and worked so hard to provide for me and it makes me so driven and so wanting to take advantage of every opportunity I get here,” George said. “Because I know how lucky I am to go here.”
Knowing that people as intelligent and hardworking as her parents can be discriminated against, George has realized that discrimination doesn’t discriminate—and that something should be done.
A political science major and Spanish minor, George has cultivated and strengthened her passion for civil rights and the fight against employment discrimination of minority groups. Twice a week for one hour, she travels to Brighton High School to teach a class on government advocacy and civics through Generation Citizen, a nonprofit organization that she discovered at the involvement fair freshman year and has been involved in since.
George has spent her time through the organization teaching high school seniors, and has faced illiteracy, behavioral issues, and a general sense of apathy among her students.
“Part of my goal is just to get them excited about education again,” she said.
For the first half of each semester that George teaches, she focuses on educating the students on government advocacy and civics. The second half implements those tactics on an issue of the class’s choosing. Last semester, the students focused on racially motivated traffic stops by Boston police.
At the end of the class this past spring, George guided her students as they worked with three senators and representatives on Capitol Hill and lobbied on behalf of the issue. They gained legislative response for a bill that strives to achieve two main things. First, the bill would require police to provide documentation in the form of receipts to any civilian they stop. And second, it would require all police departments in the Commonwealth to record information in a reviewable database, which would include race, gender, location, and reason for the stop that can be reviewed by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
“The fact that they were spearheading the issue by the end was something I never could have foreseen happening,” George said.
In response to their lobbying, the Senate Judiciary Committee in Massachusetts held a hearing on the bill and voted to move it forward to a vote by the House and Senate. Their bill, No. 1575, is currently undergoing a study. George and her students hope for it to be passed soon.
Outside of her BC experience, George has had an internship working with civil rights issues every summer since her freshman year. In 2015, she worked for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, traveling around the city of Boston to give presentations to minority groups about the options available to them through the law when they feel they have been discriminated against.
In 2016, she worked for the Attorney General of Massachusetts’ office in the civil rights division, handling real-life complaints from minorities who felt they were being discriminated against—and ended up resolving 120 of them. Although George already had those personal experiences of employment discrimination, by calling employers and coworkers and working to settle an agreement, her passion for and understanding of how widespread the issue of employment discrimination really is grew.
It led to her latest internship this past summer, where she worked in Washington, D.C., at the Department of Labor and furthered her understanding of employment law, solidifying her already developed passion.
Between all of her accomplishments, it’s no surprise that George was awarded BC’s Asian-Aquino scholarship last semester, which is judged on the criteria of strong academic performance in a challenging course load that integrates personal goals, and leadership and participation in activities that serve others and help the Asian American community and its contributions to the larger American society.
As for her senior year, George’s main goal is to get into law school: Harvard to be exact.
“That’s my number one goal,” she said. “It’s pretty much all I can think about right now.”
George’s goal in the long term is a career characterized by service and a determined focus on bettering the lives of those in marginalized communities. Although the start to that long-term goal is a year away, it doesn’t stop her from having an immediate impact on the community she is still currently a part of. As an RA in Walsh, member of Generation Citizen, Model UN, and the flute ensemble, George hopes to influence the younger members in the same ways older members influenced her.
Although George’s humility may try, the impact of her work can’t be kept under the radar, both on and off the Heights.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor