May 31, 2024

JSI Scholar: Jenuel Camacho

  • Pronouns: He/Him
  • Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • College/University: University of Puerto Rico
  • Major: Political Science
  • Track: Residential

Tell us about your story

I was born on May 24, 2002, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during my 12 years where I became part of a very tight-knit community. However, growing up in Puerto Rico during a time where our government was on the brink of a recession, everywhere I looked I saw news outlets warning Puerto Ricans of our economic crisis, which was simply on the verge of collapsing, an issue that we are still battling with today. Given the current state of the island, the economic hardship made my family move to different places where we had to learn how to cope with different scenarios. Therefore, when I think about public policy and policy making, I realize that I can play an important role in how we can fix issues, that are involved with the well-being of all Puerto Ricans, but also the impact that policy decisions had on common people which they need to take into consideration the people who are most affected by those decisions. Being in public service will give me the opportunity to impact my community by changing the way we make policy in Puerto Rico, but also a way of being grateful to my family and community who have contributed to my personal development.

What path did you take when you first started college?

I started college in the political science program. At first, my only goal was to enter law school once I finished my bachelors degree. However, when I took my first courses in political science and economics, I realized that this topic was more complex and interesting than I anticipated, which fueled my interest in public policy and policy-making. Later, in the 2020 elections, I started working with various Puerto Rican candidates where I had the opportunity to have a closer look at how, exactly, politics and decision-making affects our communities. During this period, I decided that political science, government and policy-making was my main interest.

What made you consider a career in public policy/public service/international affairs?

During the 2020 elections, I had the opportunity to work in political campaigns for Puerto Rican candidates across the island. This  gave me a closer look at how, exactly, politics and decision-making affected the island. Whether that’d be Covid-19 restrictions, or what our government’s plan was to tackle new adversities. It was through volunteer work and community outreach that I realized public service and public policy was where I felt I could contribute the most to my Island and community.

Who inspires you to think about public service?

My community and family have been very important in my development as a human being. They inspire me to think about public service because they served me first through a good quality education and enhancing my tools to be successful in my college path.

What are you most excited about the JSI program at UW?

I am very excited to meet new people who have different cultures. But also, explore Seattle in the summer and learn how government formulates public policy in other parts of the world.