When Lucy Gruber graduated from Hope, the last thing she expected was to be working as an alderman less than a year later. Gruber, who graduated with a major in political science and a minor in communications, went back to her hometown to work remotely when the St. Charles, IL 3rd ward alderman’s seat became available by appointment. “I was kind of just joking around with my parents and my brothers, like ‘Oh we’re in the 3rd ward, should I do this?’ and they were like, ‘Sure, why not?’ so I just put my name in the hat and interviewed for it, and I ended up being appointed. So it was never my intention, but I’m just super thankful for the opportunity, ” Gruber said. As an alderman, Gruber participates in weekly city committee meetings, which help pass ordinances, dealing with zoning regulations, and more, along with responding to residents in the 3rd ward and helping them connect with the resources they need.
Her interest in politics also grew over time, but her professors in the political science department really helped foster her interest and curiosity in the subject. “I decided to study political science because I loved studying the way different people interact and the way the whole world is kind of interconnected. I never had a goal of being in politics or anything like that, but I really care about people, and I care about what other people care about.” Specifically, local politics struck a chord with her, “I’m a really community-focused person, and I think that’s a big part about local politics that I like. I think community really matters, and I think that you can make a big difference in local communities,”
Hope was a natural choice for Gruber, who appreciated the opportunity to grow in her faith and her learning simultaneously. “I think I really ended up choosing Hope because for one I went to public school all my life, and I loved my high school, middle, and elementary school experience, but my faith was really important to me, and growing up in a public high school I didn’t have as many peers or friends that I went to school with that were also a part of the Chrisitan faith community.”
“I also just loved learning, and I really want to pride myself in being a lifelong learner. So I think that the fact that Hope would offer so much mentorship in the professors and smaller class sizes that really encouraged good discussions and conversations.”
In the political science department, Gruber found mentorship that helped her learn to see the world from different perspectives. Her mentor, Dr. Virginia Beard, helped instill values she still carries to this day. “I was so impressed with her faith, and just the way that she viewed the world, and how she fostered this just incredible need for questioning. She pushed me to view the world and ask questions about how I view the world and never pushed things down anyone’s throat or forced opinions or anything like that, but she really just taught me the beauty and privilege of education, and that is something I will always take with me.”
Additionally, a semester abroad in Tanzania helped cultivate her global perspective and see global issues in a new light. “I knew that I wanted to study abroad, and I worked in the study abroad office, which was great. I knew that I wanted to go somewhere different. I saw it as an opportunity of ‘Where will I never travel on my own?’, and ‘Where do I want to learn more?’.” Her research while studying in Tanzania on economic development also helped open new doors for her to understanding how global politics impacts local communities.
As an alderman, Gruber hopes to be an advocate for younger people within her community and believes that her perspective as a young adult helps her serve her city in a unique way. “Over 55% of young people in their twenties, right out of college, are moving back home, that’s more than ever before. Partly because of the pandemic, partly because of student loans, so many more young adults are moving back to their hometowns and aren’t in big cities or they’re working from home. So, as I said in my interview, I think I can really offer a perspective that could be of value.”
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