Making a difference at Mason and the community


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With the stress of school and time-consuming clubs, it’s always surprising to meet someone who also manages to get  involved with the community, and Camile Borja is definitely one of those people. Going into our conversation, I had little to no knowledge of her – based on a friend’s brief description, all I knew was that I was looking for someone shorter than me with long, dark hair.

Borja approached me with a bright smile and a greeting so friendly and casual, you’d think we weren’t strangers. She kept up her easygoing manner as we found a relatively quiet spot to talk, and I added ‘friendly’ to my short mental list of things I knew about Borja.

That list kept growing, filling up with one accomplishment after another. Not only is she working towards her IB diploma and a part of several successful clubs at Mason, but she is also a student member of the Falls Church Affordable Housing Committee.

“I don’t vote, but they can hear my opinion. I basically represent the school and what the students want,” Borja said, enthusiastically describing her job on the committee.

The committee writes and adjusts policies regarding the less expensive apartments in Falls Church set aside for families with lower incomes. She may not have a vote, but she’s found a way to make her voice heard by helping the committee get word out about their projects and giving her opinion.

“There’s a lot of crazy things around Falls Church that you don’t really hear about,” she said as she reflected on her committee position. “It’s a really interesting thing to do.”

Borja brought up several things she’s observed and learned about the population of Falls Church and how issues are handled during her time on the committee. She also stressed the importance of having housing from low-income residents.

“People don’t really think of this as somewhere where people would need help paying for a house, but it really is,” she said. “It’s good to be able to help with that.”

This isn’t where her involvement stops – Borja continued to surprise me with her list of activities. She started her own club called Ethnic Cooking Club to cook and teach others about cooking. She also participates in robotics.

Mason’s robotics team has performed outstandingly this year, winning all three of their competitions, and the team made it to the world competition in St. Louis. Borja has been participating in robotics for four years now and plans to continue with it.

Borja’s engagement in the community certainly won’t come to an end anytime soon. Reflecting on her clubs and actions in the Housing Committee, she said, “They’re great things to do. It’s nice to participate and help out where I can.”