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In a video for the University of Arizona Wonder campaign, student Patrick Robles says, “Wonder makes me want to improve the world. It’s not the way it should be at this moment, but I believe it’s up to us to engage and be a part of the process. I’m Patrick Robles and Wonder makes me speak.”
Robles’ passion for politics and community activism was lit when he was in the 6th grade and participated in a program called “We the People.” In high school, he was student body president, joined protests to increase teacher pay, and registered students to vote.
“Embarking on a quest to study public management and policy means being able to take this advocacy that began in high school to a whole other level,” Robles said. “This means I'll be able to understand the bureaucratic processes that take place in government. This means I'll be able to have a better handle as to how American history impacts this very moment we find ourselves in.”
Robles is a first-generation college student but says he comes from generations of Arizona Wildcat fans.
“The first day that I stepped on campus as a freshman, I felt this overwhelming sense of emotion,” Robles said. “Nervousness was a huge part of that and just this great amount of pride, like ‘Wow, I'm here. I'm taking these college courses and I'm going to do the best that I can to succeed.’"
Robles said he felt a little unprepared for what to expect in his classes at first.
“I am grateful for the outreach efforts of different organizations on campus like the Thrive Center, which actively works to engage first-gen students,” Robles said. “And my fellow Wildcats help me out and have my back.”
In addition to his studies, Robles has a job and has continued his community activism unabated. He’s the outreach coordinator for the Pima County Attorney’s Office. On campus, he’s involved in Young Democrats and recently helped elect a first-generation college student to the student-body senate. Robles recently won a Fast Pitch competition offered by Social Venture Partners, raising $17,500 for the Sunnyside Unified School District, from which he is a proud graduate. At 19, he is the youngest board member of the Sunnyside USD Foundation.
Robles also has his own podcast called Robles Speaks. “The whole goal of the podcast is to engage young people in the conversation around politics, so most of the guests I have are around my age,” Robles said. “We need more young people at the decision-making table.”
Robles loves to motivate other young people to get involved in rallies and campaigning, to speak out.
“Last year, in my old school district, we were campaigning for educational propositions,” Robles said. “Every single Saturday morning, I was driving around the neighborhoods, picking people up. We're getting up, campaigning until about noon and just knocking on doors because we believed in this cause.”
Robles adds, “I want young people to have these experiences, and it may motivate them in the future to partake in these political processes. I tell my fellow Wildcats how to get involved and guide them in that process if they do show serious interest.”
Robles is counting on his education and experiences at the University of Arizona to help him navigate his future: “I want to figure out the appropriate path to take so that I can be in these halls of power, positively influencing change in this community and in this country as a whole."
“Wonder will take me to the opportunities that are on the horizon,” Robles said. “And Wonder will make me persevere.”