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Camille Benoit

Camille Benoit

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Age: 18

High school: Atlantic County Institute of Technology

Hometown: Egg Harbor Township

Parents: Aleisha and Jason Benoit

Community/school activities: Student Advisory Board; Student Ambassador; Miss Night in Venice Charity Pageant contestant; South Jersey Field of Dreams; interned with the Jeff Van Drew campaign, interned with offices of Mazzeo and Armato; freshmen mentor; volunteered at Galloway Senior Center

Post-high school plans: Attend Stockton University and obtain a degree in political science, with a pre-law concentration

Career goals: Lawyer in healthcare law

Camille Benoit has learned the best way to get one's mind off your own difficult circumstances is to get involved in helping someone else through theirs. Having dealt with addiction in her family, the aspiring lawyer and mock trial student dreams of one day becoming a lawyer and prosecuting pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic. Benoit interned for local political offices, saying it taught her how to advocate for the interests of her community. At Atlantic County Institute of Technology, she is known for her encouraging spirit and ability to lead, something of which she's proud, and is choosing to stay close to home so she can continue to serve her community.

How did your experience in mock trial help to instill leadership qualities within you?

Some people can get really caught up over the bad things people say, but mock trial helped me take those things the judges say because these are real judges that I go in front of, and the next year I get better in the competition. I always use what they say to get better. I don’t get emotionally attached to it. I truly take it and become a better person because of it. I think that’s a big thing for a leader.

What was your biggest takeaway from your time interning within local politics?

When I was interning, I would take down what people said, then I’d bring it back to the assemblyman or the congressman and we’d find solutions for these people within the community. I think you’ve got to realize that they are there to help you. They’re not just some figurehead. Kids these days, they really need to go out and vote and get involved in their community. A lot of us go on social media and complain about things, but that’s it. But you can go out there and organize protests and get involved in your community, and that’s what’s important.

Why is it important that young people become leaders in their community?

Because every community needs good leaders. You need to grow up — you need those politicians, you need those doctors, you need the people who are going to serve you. I feel like our generation gets a really bad rap for using social media and the technology we do have for negative things. But when you become a leader on those things, you inspire other people to do well and go out and do good things. I think it teaches you to be a better person on social media if you see those "better" people doing those things.

—Jacklyn McQuarrie

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