Silvia Fabela believes in the way that Monmouth College taught her to think.
That’s why the 2007 graduate, who studied political science, psychology, and Spanish, is happy to donate to her alma mater.
“Giving to the College is important to me because it can help open some of the same doors for students that Monmouth opened for me,” said Fabela, who was raised in the Chicago suburb of Glendale Heights.
Fabela has worked in Washington, D.C. the last five years for Local Progress, a movement of local elected officials advancing a racial and economic justice agenda through all levels of local government.
“In my work, I talk about my time at Monmouth a lot,” she said. “I’m one of the few people who have lived in a rural part of the country. At Monmouth, I got to meet people who were so different than me–people who had grown up on a farm, people who listened to country music–I’m still trying to adjust to that one, by the way. But I can speak to the impact of a company like Maytag leaving Galesburg, or of the consolidation of schools in Monmouth and Roseville. That’s always stuck with me.”
As Fabela gained what she called a “well-rounded education” at Monmouth, she made connections across the disciplines she studied.
“At Monmouth, I was able to combine everything I was thinking about,” she said. “And that type of thinking allows me in my work to think holistically about the problems the U.S. is facing.”
Supporting holistic thinking is important to Fabela, who has donated to a scholarship fund named for one of her Monmouth political science professors, the late Ira Smolensky.
“I can think about a system. I can think about policy, I can think about the impact on human beings,” she said. “Donating to Monmouth College contributes to that holistic way of thinking.”
Fabela’s Monmouth success story very nearly didn’t happen, she said. “I had my heart set on the University of Illinois, but (now-retired admission representative) Peter Pitts is a very compelling recruiter. He invited me to visit, and as soon as I saw the campus, I thought it was so adorably charming. Then I came back for a scholarship day. Keep in mind that they had only met me once. But they recognized me and called me by name. That really spoke to me. I knew I’d get the attention I really needed at Monmouth,.”
In the political science department, that attention came from Smolensky, as well as from Robin Johnson and Farhat Haq. Fabela recalled campaigning door-to-door for one of Johnson’s classes, the first of the many campaigns in which she’s since participated. She called Haq “an incredible mentor” and praised the help she received from her on her senior project on the Latino voting block.
Fabela is still closely associated with Latinos in the work she does for Local Progress.
“We challenge elected officials to come up with creative solutions for their communities,” she said. “We also want to make sure they’re bringing in historically underrepresented communities, such as Blacks and Latinos,” helping the movement fulfill its goal of fighting “to reshape what is possible in our localities all across the country.”