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Senator Cory Booker Speaks With Students at Guarini Lecture Series

On March 31, Senator Cory Booker came to Saint Peter’s University as part of the Guarini Lecture Series, hosted by the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership. Senator Booker addressed a packed audience in The Duncan Family Sky Room about the idea of the “American dream” and the reality of unemployment rates for young adults.

Booker, an American politician and the junior United States senator from New Jersey, is the former mayor of Newark. He attended Stanford University, where he played college football and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Arts in Sociology before earning a Rhodes Scholarship to attend the University of Oxford. Upon returning home, he received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.

“Since winning the election to the United States Senate in October 2013, Senator Booker has focused his energies on two issues important to his constituents – job growth and improving economic opportunities for all,” said Saint Peter’s University President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D.

Senator Booker’s lecture focused on the aforementioned two issues, and he discussed how every individual in the United States is in search of equal opportunity for all to work and succeed in life. Yet, while the nation is still in recovery from one of the worst recessions seen in years, job growth is sluggish and those most affected are individuals fresh out of college.

“Unemployment early in life has a long-term impact on someone’s working experience,” said Senator Booker, stating that a long halt in work after graduating from college has severe consequences, such as lower pay and a reduced gross income over a person’s lifetime and an economy that loses billons of dollars each year in taxable income.

“As a country, we must show a commitment that young people who are looking for jobs have access to them,” he said.

Senator Booker provided suggestions for this issue, recommendations that he is currently discussing in the Senate in hopes of alleviating this problem. One thought was to raise minimum wage in the United States to decrease poverty. The other was a call to employers to offer paid apprenticeships so an individual can gain much needed experience in their chosen job field.

“What I’m excited about is the generation that is in this room today,” Senator Booker said. “You are equipped with the tools and technology to finally get this nation going.”

After his discussion, Senator Booker took questions from the audience, which ranged from the issue of undocumented immigrants to debt after graduation. He also spoke with students after the program was over to address individual concerns and pose for selfies.

“Senator Booker’s talk was very interesting because he talked about issues that affect students,” said Nicole Serrano ’16, a criminal justice major. “He wants us to make a movement ourselves as the next generation.”

The Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership brings national and state leaders to campus to discuss public policy issues affecting the world. The Institute sponsors lectures and programs to promote critical thinking, debate and careers in public service. It also sponsors periodic public affairs forums and conducts several United Nations internship programs. The Institute is named after the Honorable Frank J. Guarini H ’94, a retired New Jersey senator who maintains a strong interest in education, environment and land use issues. To learn more about future Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership events at Saint Peter’s University, please visit saintpeters.edu/guarini-institute/news-and-events.