Learning from Linares

Julia Perkins

State Sen. Art Linares, 25, visited campus Nov. 20 to speak to the students in professor Christina Engelsgaard’s QU 101 class.

Linares started the solar energy business Greenskies at 19 and is now a Republican senator for the 33rd district of Connecticut.

“He is an excellent role model for my students,” Engelsgaard said. “I wanted to inspire them to start reaching for their professional goals now. I also wanted to inspire hope that they can make a difference in their local communities and politics in general.”

Linares acknowledged students will face challenges when they graduate college with student loans and finding a job.

“One of the best ways to overcome that is to network as much as possible and to always show up when you have the opportunities,” he said. “We have a hundred million people in our generation, Generation Y, and it’s our time to stand up, to get involved in politics, to get involved in local businesses and I think Connecticut is the right place to do that.”

Although there are state representatives in their 20s, Linares said he is the youngest state senator in Connecticut.

“Whenever you’re younger, people ultimately…underestimate you, which I think is actually an advantage for young people,” Linares said. “People are running for office and getting elected at a younger age and I think it has to do with our population and our open minded viewpoints in politics.”

With the gridlock in Washington, there is a chance young people will be deterred from politics, Linares said.

“But I do think that we have an incredibly intelligent generation and that we’re open minded and that we want to see our leaders work together,” Linares said. “I hope that we can represent our generation that way in Hartford and show that we are doing that, we are trying to find bipartisan approaches to government.”

Linares said some of his best experiences as a state senator have been from working across the aisle. He likes to work with the legislature proposing a bill to understand everyone’s perspectives.

“I never sit down at a meeting and say ‘We have to kill this deal,’” Linares said. “I look at people on the other side of the aisle as people that have different viewpoint and I can benefit from learning from them and with every challenge and with every issue I think there’s just an opportunity behind the corner.”

Engelsgaard said she noticed her students were losing hope in the government during the federal shutdown in October.

“I told them that it’s just not Washington,” Engelsgaard said. “It’s our local communities too. And really you can make a huge difference by being involved in our local governments and a lot of change actually happens from the grassroots up.”

Freshman Andrew Geller said Linares gave him hope about the political situation in the nation.

“He seemed like a genuinely passionate guy and really cared about his constituents and right now that’s not really something we’re seeing in Washington a lot,” Geller said.

Listening to Linares gave freshman Christina Comizio a new perspective on politics.

“I always [thought] that politics were just full of it, you’re constantly persuading people, but he was just so down to earth and you could see that he really cared about his job,” Comizio said.

“I think with someone like him it just goes to show that there are people that go into office that aren’t just there for the title of it.”

Geller identified as a Democrat, but said Linares could be a “savior to the GOP” because he is relatable to young people and has moderate views.

“It made me feel more comfortable looking at the Republican party and saying ‘This is a possible party that I could end up voting for,’” Geller said. “It sort of made me rethink what the Republican party is about and look at some of the senators and people in power in the Republican party and not just make judgments off their party affiliation.”