Civic Engagement with Will Breslin

Cameryn Padron and August Field

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Civic Engagement with Will Breslin

Students protesting in front of the Ralph Moore Building.

Students protesting in front of the Ralph Moore Building.

Elliza Beltran

Students protesting in front of the Ralph Moore Building.

Elliza Beltran

Elliza Beltran

Students protesting in front of the Ralph Moore Building.

Pablo Hanono, Staff Writer

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High school is a place where many students mature and discover their interests. Every school year brings with it different experiences and social climates that can spawn bright and highly motivated students. This sentiment is clearly displayed in William “Quinto” Breslin’s actions. A senior at Coral Gables Senior High, Breslin’s crowning glory is his devotion to politics and social justice through student activism.

Breslin’s interest in politics began way before high school. As a kid, he remembers sitting in the car with his dad while National Public Radio (NPR) was playing. After those car rides, he would arrive home only to talk for hours on end with his dad about politics. His first formal engagement with politics happened in 2008 during Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Will along with his dad went canvassing around Miami attempting to drum up support for the young candidate. It’s here where Will’s passion for activism was born; his experience on the campaign trail put politics on his radar permanently.

“Will is truly an inspiration. He speaks so passionately about what he believes in but is always willing to hear differing opinions and engage in dialogue about major issues.” junior Keyshawn Felton said.

Once in high school, Breslin got to work fast. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Breslin witnessed his country become more polarized by the day. It was not until Donald Trump’s victory that politics became his life’s focus. Together with Nikita Leus-Oliva, he flew out to Washington D.C. for a student engagement conference. The conference taught Will the importance of student voices in politics and just how much change can come about through activism. These beliefs materialized into the Miami Dade Teen Democrats Club, a civic engagement club focused on bringing like-minded students into the political fold. No sooner had the plane landed in Miami, William and Nikita had already drafted a club constitution and gotten in touch with local politicians. Despite not being a school-sanctioned club, the Miami Dade Teen Democrats has gained an impressive number of members and has participated in several local campaigns such as Annette Taddeo’s Florida Senate run.

“After having gone to one of his meetings, I could see how dedicated he was to the cause. Every student that walked in was made to feel part of something bigger with his words of encouragement and extensive volunteer opportunities.” junior Sophie Sepehri said.

More recently, in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, Wiliam organized the Young Leadership Summit to bring together students to fight for gun reform. Will and his organizing team got in contact with local and statewide campaigns and had them send representatives to help recruit students as volunteers for their campaigns. One of the most notable moments of the summit was when the representatives from the campaigns all signed a pledge to fight for gun reform in front of the students.

With graduation right around the corner, Will has some serious thinking to do about his future both politically and academically. Regardless of whether or not he leaves Miami for university, he will have a tangible legacy that will continue to operate.