American Dreaming

How one graduating senior is fulfilling the promise of the generations before him.

Senior Nick Goranites witnessed the American dream firsthand. His Syrian-born mother and his father, a first-generation American, built successful real estate careers—despite never finishing college—thanks to hard work and grit. In so doing, they set an example for their son.

“As I got older and entered high school, my objective was to work hard because my grandparents and parents sacrificed a lot to make a better life for their children,” says Goranites. “It’s important I make them proud and show them their hard work was not done in vain.”

Following in his older sister’s footsteps, Goranites enrolled at Monmouth University, where he is pursuing a double major in business and political science. His interest in business comes from witnessing his parents’ entrepreneurial success, but his interest in political science and foreign affairs is a product of his larger family’s experiences, says Goranites. He has family throughout the Middle East, some of whom died or became refugees during the Syrian civil war.

“The fact that I come from an immigrant family means I’ve had close exposure to these issues my whole life,” he says. “I’ve also seen how, in America you don’t have to be born with everything to be successful if you are willing to be innovative and put in the work. It inspired me to help others do the same.”

With his heart set on a career in politics, Goranites saw his path begin to take shape during his freshman and sophomore years, when he landed an internship in the office of Congressman Chris Smith, the U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District. There, he fielded calls from constituents who needed assistance navigating federal agencies, exposing him to citizens from all walks of life as well as agencies from across the political spectrum. He helped veterans resolve challenges within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, assisted seniors with the Social Security program, and answered questions about the U.S. Postal Service. It was Goranites’ first professional—and first political—experience, and he wanted more.

Meanwhile, Goranites rose to a variety of leadership positions on campus, thriving in an environment that supported him after a history with bullying. He’s the president of the Student Alumni Association, a senior senator for the Student Government Association, and president of MU SPECTRUM, a student club aimed at creating and promoting awareness for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer/questioning community within Monmouth. “When I arrived at Monmouth, my life changed,” he recalls. “I kept to myself and didn’t have the courage or confidence to come out as gay until I got to Monmouth, and so the University has also been a big part of my personal journey.”

Recently, Goranites landed an internship working for the Minority Republican Ranking Member Kay Granger on the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, thanks to earning a spot in the Washington Center Internship Program. He gathers data for staff, helps craft memos and briefs, and sits in on hearings. “It’s all about learning how to work as part of a policy-oriented committee staff,” he says. It’s also his first exposure to Capitol Hill, where he hopes to stay after he graduates in May.

“My dream is to work in the American political system, which enabled my parents and grandparents to come here, work hard, and make a change for their family,” he says. “I want to be able to contribute to helping the American people thrive through our system of politics, wherever I happen to find myself.”