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Affecting Change

04/01/2022 12:11 AM By Joshua
Breaking Social Norms
Cynthia Dela Rosa
Cynthia Dela Rosa
Story by Lisa Anderson

Affecting Change

Entering the Political Sphere as a Young Woman of Color

“My name is Cynthia Dela Rosa and I am running for Florida State House of Representatives for District 23. While it’s incredible to believe that someone of my background can affect change with a generation of citizens much older, I stand on the shoulders of these leaders who helped me get where I am.”

The above quote is from the closing paragraph on the Meet Cynthia page of cynthiaforhouse.com. In 2020, during a pandemic, Cynthia Dela Rosa decided to enter the world of politics for the first time. She was 23 years old.

Born in Flint, Michigan, her parents moved to the Ocala area when Cynthia was just eight years old. She attended Blessed Trinity Catholic School and Trinity Catholic High School, before heading to the University of Florida, where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology with a concentration in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience in 2018.

She returned to Ocala to work as a registered behavioral technician with the Florida Autism Center. “While I was working there, I became more aware of the political climate. What really got me was the women’s health [issues],” Cynthia explains. “I decided we have to do something. That’s why I decided to run. I feel that was a very extreme reaction, but I felt that was most appropriate for me, because I wasn’t sure anything less than that was going to be heard by my peers.”

Entering the Political Sphere

Cynthia’s age was one of many challenges. “Not only because people would underestimate me. There was a lack of political experience and reputation.” She was an unknown, and her age hadn’t allowed her to build a strong reputation in the community. Her race and gender were some of the other hurdles she needed to jump over. “Being a woman of color has its own intrinsic difficulties.”

However, her family, campaign team, and friends were there to help her meet and overcome whatever trials she faced. “My family was nothing but supportive. In hindsight, they were probably thinking I was crazy for wanting to do it, but they were behind me the whole time. They went to all of my events. They asked me questions when I was giving speeches. They held me when I was really frustrated.”

Cynthia had stepped into the unfamiliar, but it wasn’t all roadblocks. She fondly remembers going door-to-door, participating in community events, such as food drives, and helping to raise funds. While she was “door knocking,” Cynthia was surprised to learn she was often the first political candidate to personally speak with someone. “It was very interesting and sad to hear that someone other than a 22/23-year-old girl wasn’t coming out to talk with the people of Ocala. I also really liked the community work that we did. There is a non-profit hospital in West Ocala [Estella Berg Whitman Wellness and Community Resource Center], and we raised more than $2,000 worth of supplies and finances to support this local hospital. I was very excited about that.”

While Cynthia won the primary election, she did not win the general election. “We didn’t win, but it still felt like a big victory. We brought so many people together. It was one of the largest Democratic victories in Ocala. I thought we would have support down party lines, but there was a little bit of everyone, which was awesome,” she adds with a giggle.
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Twenty-Five and Moving Forward

“Since then, I’ve been focusing a lot on myself. I realized that the political sphere is definitely something I want to go into again, but there are other things I want to do first,” the now 25-year-old Cynthia states via a video meeting.

She recently moved to the Tampa area to pursue her career and school. She has applied to med school, is studying for the MCAT® (Medical College Admission Test®), and now works for the Florida Medical Clinic in the dermatology department.

“To be totally honest, and I don’t think I’m ashamed to say it, it took a really long time to process the election, so that I have the outlook of it as I have now.” Even though she has always felt her loss was a win, that doesn’t mean Cynthia didn’t feel the sting of self-perceived failure. “I had a lot of support to overcome that,” she muses.

In the meantime, Cynthia is learning to truly listen to the people around her, what community members and influencers say about specific topics, and to always practice follow-through. As she stated earlier, she plans to return to politics. For now, she is focusing on how she can best serve without needing to run for office. “I am excited to see what our generation in general has to offer, not just in the political sphere.”
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