Helping people has been Priscilla Consolo’s motivating goal in everything she’s worked on for the past 17 years, whether volunteering as lunch monitor in grade school and as altar server and certified youth minister at Our Lady of Grace Church, or editing several literary and history publications at Midwood High School and serving as chairperson of her school’s Model Congress.
But it is her work in politics and community service within theGravesend and Bensonhurst communities that has made Consolo standout amongst her peers.
As an intern last summer with Assemblymember William Colton’s office, she helped write press releases and spearheaded a clean-up campaign to beautify local streets that drew over 400 students of all ages, ethnicities and experience from across the borough. She proved herself so indispensable in those four short months that on September 15, 2011, Colton decided to hire her full-time – making her the youngest employee of the New York State Assembly.
“When we filled out the paperwork for the job, they told him, ‘This needs working papers because she’s under 18 and usually we don’t have that,'” recalled Consolo. “It definitely made me feel really accomplished because when I started getting involved in community activities and became interested in government and law, I never thought I’d say I’m working with a state assemblymember at 17. Who gets to say that? That was amazing.”
Colton explained his decision to hire Consolo as a special assistant in charge of writing petitions and organizing community campaigns – her next project is Colton’s push to get B64 bus service restored past 25th and Harway Avenues to Stillwell Avenue -as simply knowing talent when he sees it.
“She is an outstanding example of our youth; extremely bright, hardworking and dedicated, but wants to use her talent and skills to help people in the community,” he said. “[Her work organizing the clean-up] was very impressive. She is a very good example of our hope for our future.”
Consolo takes the praise and awards in stride, saying that while having to work and go to school is not easy, she manages because she’s chosen things she truly cares about. “If I’m not passionate about something, it’s not going to get done correctly,” she said. “If you truly believe in something, then you’re really going to goto great lengths to accomplish what you want.”
Even with her big dreams, though, Consolo is still a mortal teen who needs rest. Sometimes my mom yells at me and tells me that I need to relax and give myself a break and take things slow, especially when I’m stressed out, she recalled.
But that doesn’t slow her down.
“I think [my parents] have kind of learned that the kind of person I am, I can’t sit back when I see something wrong or that I can help with,” explained the ambitious teen. “That’s who I am and who they are too. They’ve always been supportive of me, told me whatever you want to do, do it.'”
The words of another personal role model also resonate in Consolo’s daily life, spoken by her pastor at Our Lady of Grace, Father Thomas Leach.
“As far as volunteering and wanting to help people and be willing to sacrifice, somebody who inspired me was Father Leach,” she said. “Something he said to me that I will never forget and remember almost every day is, ‘Sometimes you have to decide what’s important in life and then you have to fight for it.'”
The first in her family to go to college, Consolo hopes to study either government or political science, perhaps eventually attending law school and/or getting a Masters in public administration, and maybe running for office.
“If I’m able to work my way up, that’d be great. I’m only 17, I have big aspirations,” she said. “I also like to write and have always been interested in creative writing. I might actually pursue that as a minor in college if that’s possible. I would like to publish a book one day. I think I have a lot of stories to tell.”