Nursing student represents Dominican at national Up to Us summit

It was not until her senior year at Benicia High School that nursing major Elena Brown ’20 became active in student government. She wished that she had started earlier.

“In high school, I had wanted to join student government for a long time, but I kept putting it off,” she recalls. “When I came to Dominican, I knew early on that I wanted to get involved with leadership.”

After attending Dominican’s TORCH program, led by Rabbi Henry Shreibman and aimed at helping students make the transition to college life, Elena felt empowered to seek out a leadership position on campus.

“The TORCH meetings helped me feel comfortable to seek opportunities to express my leadership skills on campus,” Elena says.

This year not only was Elena serving as Associated Students of Dominican University of California (ASDU) sophomore class senator, she also is representing Dominican University as the campus coordinator for the national Up to Us program. In May, Elena represented Dominican at the Up to Us Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C.

And, as a result of her growing focus in leadership, Elena is exploring how to integrate leadership and nursing once she graduates from Dominican.

“As a nursing student at Dominican, I want to make a difference and to help others make a difference. My work on Up to Us has helped me expand my vision for what I want to do in my future. I want to work as a nurse, but also eventually go into management or policy. I am seeing that there are so many opportunities to combine nursing, policy, and leadership.”

Up to US is a program that empowers students to educate peers on the country’s long-term national debt and determine what college students can do to have a voice in raising awareness of the country’s fiscal challenges.

When Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar, VP for Public Affairs and University Relations, heard about the Up to Us program, she asked ASDU President Hallie Balch ’18 to recommend a student to represent Dominican in the annual Up to Us competition. Impressed with Elena’s leadership and focus on public service, Hallie passed along Elena’s name.

The competition kicked off with an event in Atlanta at which all participating colleges received training and funds to run tailored, non-partisan campus campaigns to educate their peers and inspire collective action.

When she returned to Dominican, Elena, Mariana Hernandez ’20, Cameron Yee ’20, and Amy Chiu ’20 organized three events – including a trivia competition about the national debt – designed to encourage students to sign pledges to support Up to Us in communicating that securing a strong fiscal future is a priority for today’s students.

Elena also formed partnerships with several campus organizations and departments in order to help spread the word about Up to Us. As a result of her efforts, about 400 students signed pledges. The pledges are being delivered by Up to Us to representatives, senators, and other elected officials based on each student’s zip code.

Thanks to the team’s work and Elena’s leadership, Dominican placed in the top 20 out of more than 100 teams that participated in this year’s competition. The judges congratulated the Dominican team members on their ingenuity and effort to create such a great turnout for each event and plentiful partnerships with other groups across campus.


June 4, 2018