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The Future Politician

News Story

Political science major Isabelle Gorishnya ’20 is determined to punch her ticket to success by maximizing every student opportunity she earns while at Pace. She’s interned for two Senators, and now she has her sights set on law school.

By Kendra Free, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

With the perseverance of the titular character in the classic children’s book The Little Engine that Could, Isabelle Gorishnya ’20 has been chugging toward a future in law and politics for nearly as long as she can remember. Now, after overcoming several obstacles that could have easily thrown her off track, she is a Pace political science major, minoring in pre-law and philosophy, and gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to go full steam ahead.

“I cannot really begin to imagine a future without Pace University,” she said. “There is an old saying in Hebrew, Gam Zu La Tova, which means everything happens for a greater good. Regardless of what may have led me here, I think I was always supposed to be a part of the Pace family.”

Raised in both the US and Ukraine by her mother, a Jewish Ukrainian immigrant, she recalls attempting to formulate logical arguments to challenge her earliest teachers and caregivers. Gorishnya may have occasionally won out on issues like bedtime, extra cookies, or helping out with her younger sister and brother, but at age twelve, she met a formidable opponent in Mother Nature. Gorishnya can still recall being trapped in the attic of her house during Superstorm Sandy and witnessing her neighbors struggling to punch a hole in their roof as floodwaters engulfed their Staten Island neighborhood.

“It really made me determined not to take my life for granted,” she told us.

That attitude brought Gorishnya to the Challenge to Achievement at Pace (CAP) program, created to support promising students who may not meet admission standards. In Gorishnya’s case, her early motivation and involvement more than made up for weaknesses on her high school transcript. At 14, with no experience and a resume she learned to create from the internet, she convinced her local US Representative’s office to bring her on as an intern. At Pace, she’s been similarly active. Currently, Gorishnya is part of Pace’s highly regarded Model United Nations team, and serves as the first woman president of the College Republicans Club on the NYC Campus.

A first-generation college student, Gorishnya said she initially felt apprehensive about expressing her opinions among peers with different perspectives, but recognizing the need for more strong women as political leaders, she’s learned how to listen and speak up in a way that promotes healthy discussion and debate.

“You don’t move mountains by taking a staunch approach, and I want to be part of the history books. I want to be part of the change,” she says. To that end, she says she has made a point of welcoming all viewpoints at club events, and encouraging others to listen and speak with empathy and an open mind.

Pace has also taught Gorishnya the importance of connections. On a campus tour, she met Associate Vice President and Dean for Students Marijo Russell-O’Grady. When she mentioned her interest in the law, she was astounded when Russell-O’Grady was quick to put her in touch with an alumnus working in the field. “I’m still in contact with him now,” Gorishnya enthused.

She’s made other professional connections and gained practical skills through several internships, too. In 2017, she worked for New York State Senator Andrew J. Lanza (R-Staten Island), assisting on various events, aiding constituents, and logging correspondence. Last summer, she interned in Washington, DC, for Senator Joe Machin III (D-West Virginia). As an unpaid staffer, she had to pay for living expenses in the capital with money she had saved from working part-time as a student employee in the Office of Student Assistance, and as a student note taker for Student Accessibility Services. Gorishnya was also a teaching assistant for the UNV 101: First Year Seminar course last year.

Looking ahead, Gorishnya has her sights set on an Ivy League law school, but wherever her next stop is, it’s a sure bet that her Pace education will help further her future success.

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