Miranda '01 may be short, but he's not silent

by Rachel Osterman | 5/8/00 5:00am

His campaign posters proclaimed him to be five feet and seven inches of fury. They said he knows how to change the Student Assembly. And they implored students to "Blitz" him, "call" him and "stop [him] on the Green."

His friends describe him as "energetic," "enthusiastic," "short," "hard-working," "involved," and say that he leads both by example and by encouraging others to involve themselves.

He learned about Dartmouth after receiving a letter from the admissions office inviting him to apply, and he joined the Assembly in a similarly fortuitous manner: a club to which he belonged as a freshman needed a representative in the Assembly.

Three years and nine activities since he became an official member of the Assembly, Jorge Miranda '01 was elected to the presidency last week with a 24 percent margin of victory, promising to make effective reforms and institutionalize student voice at the College.

Miranda described the news of his victory as "very surreal" and "real nice," said that he was "looking forward" to leading the Assembly next year, and that his experience in that body has substantially changed since he first joined.

Having never participated in student government during high school, Miranda said that "I remember I was intimidated to speak up at first."

He has since worked on the academic affairs and academic advising committees and instituted, among other things, the Uh-Oh and SAWazzupdate BlitzMail services, two feats of which he is quite proud.

"I came up with the names, they're good names, eh?" he said.

Miranda hails from Norwalk, Connecticut, where he grew up with his two older brothers, thirty-odd cousins and two parents, both of whom were born in Honduras and immigrated to this country first illegally and then, after facing deportation, with required legal documents.

Miranda is the first in his family to seek higher education, an achievement that he hopes and thinks has made his family proud.

His family background, Miranda said, has influenced his outlook and values significantly. "Perhaps in the context of Dartmouth, you could say I'm not very privileged. But when I've gone back to Honduras, I've realized how privileged I really am."

Miranda's high school experience in Norwalk " which he described as a diverse and relatively working class town an hour away from New York City " was characterized by theatrical performances, good grades and music.

"Musicals were always what I looked forward to. That was the most important thing to me," he said. "I grew a whole foot in high school, and that came across in the musicals."

When he visited Dartmouth, Miranda "fell in love with the people, fell in love with the campus." He elaborated, "it was just like, 'Wow, this is a great place.'"

In his time here so far, Miranda's favorite courses have been in the education department. He said he has particularly enjoyed classes on contemporary issues in education and the morality of education.

Although Miranda is a declared English major, he plans on teaching upon graduation from the College " possibly with the Teach for America program or independently in Honduras " before seeking a masters degree in education so that he can "make policy and reforms" in that field.

"That's where my main interest lies," he said.

Miranda explained that the most effective form of education he has come to learn while at Dartmouth is one in which students are allowed to affect their environment, a belief that corresponds with his approach to leading the Assembly.

"Students deserve to be involved in the decision-making process," he said. "It's how you teach responsibility to students."

Miranda thus wants to achieve an institutional voice for students "by first seeing what's practical and what isn't.

"There are already on this campus ways for students to be involved, and strengthening that. And I also want students to be involved on committees and in the implementation phase" of the Social and Residential Life Initiative. He added that students should be allowed to vote on such committees so that "they actually have real input."

Miranda also believes that the Assembly should make an effort to include more minority and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students in its ranks.

"It's important to reach out to those students and make them feel they have a say," he said. "So that they know the SA will be an organization that will help them."

Another aspect of Miranda's campaign " that he stressed is more than mere "lip-service" " is involving the uninvolved.

"If they're not happy," he said, "it's bad for the entire campus."

Since his freshman year, Miranda has participated in a host of organizations, including La Alianza Latina, Class Council, Green Key, Committee on Standards, Student Assembly, Under Graduate Advisor, LEAD mentor program, First-Year Office Internship program and, most recently, Casque and Gauntlet.

He said his work as a UGA stands out most. "Both years, it has been a great experience," he said. "Just personal relationships, trying to build a sense of community, and just getting to know the individuals" were particularly meaningful, he explained.

"This year I decided to step back from the Assembly, I decided not to be an exec, but a member," he said. "So in the end, I won't feel the Assembly is the only thing I've done at Dartmouth."

Miranda said that his campaign for the Assembly presidency was especially difficult.

"Just always questioning yourself," he said. "People are asking you, 'Why are you the best person for this?' And you begin to ask yourself, 'Why am I the best person for this?'"

His answer:

"I've done a lot of things on this campus, and just trying to get things done ... I'm very open, I'm very friendly. And also the specific ideas I think I'll do a really good job with."

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