Alumni Profile: Ruby Belle Booth
“I’ve always been more interested in the civics of it all.” Ruby Belle Booth, A21 began working with Tisch College’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) as an undergraduate and continues to study and support young voters as the research center’s Elections Coordinator.
Ruby Belle Booth’s, A21, interest in civic engagement began before she could vote. “I've always been really interested in politics.” She recalled hearing, even as a 9th grader, that “one day she would understand the real world,” and thinking “no I understand now, just because I’m a freshman in high school doesn't mean I’m not strong in my beliefs, or that my beliefs aren’t backed up by my own understanding of the world.” Ruby carries that perspective forward as the Elections Coordinator at Tisch College’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) and as a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she is actively involved in ensuring that young people’s voices are both studied and uplifted as a vital part of our democracy.
As an undergraduate at Tufts, Ruby double-majored in History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, focusing on “how people were claiming power and engaging with their political circumstances.” She sought out opportunities to connect her academic learning to challenges in communities. “I’ve always been more interested in the civics of it all.”
In looking for ways to apply her learning outside of the classroom, Ruby secured a fellowship at CIRCLE after being introduced to the research center through the Tisch Summer Fellows program. In 2020, she was hired as the Diverse Democracy Fellow at CIRCLE, and that experience turned into a full-time position. Ruby explained that she was drawn to CIRCLE’s “mission to make sure that it's every single young person is engaged, not just the young people who've had the most opportunities. She embraces a vision of “expanding who has political power to all young people, especially people from diverse and marginalized backgrounds.”
Ruby was engaged on campus through both her chosen areas of study and her connection to her advisor Hilary Binda. Binda is the Founding Director of Tufts University Prison Initiative at Tisch College (TUPIT), and Ruby participated in the Inside/Out Program, bringing together Tufts undergraduate students with incarcerated students at MCI-Concord. “There's so much learning that can happen at a university but a lot of it is in a vacuum if you're not able to put it into practice,” Ruby explained, adding that Tisch College “provides an opportunity for people to put that learning into practice, grounded in communities.”
Ruby was part of the team that worked on CIRCLE Growing Voters, the research center’s report aimed at supporting non-partisan youth electoral learning and engagement through wide-reaching recommendations for schools, community organizations, parents and families, election officials, policymakers, and young leaders. “That big picture thinking about CIRCLE’s values when it comes to elections, and youth voting is, I think, one of the reasons that I ended up being the elections coordinator. I could look at all these projects and think about what the through lines are in terms of growing voters.”
Ruby’s research and work with youth voters was a significant part of the public discourse around the 2022 midterm elections, and she was quoted and cited by many news organizations. In September, Ruby spoke with NBCLX about the importance of investing in young people as they overcome barriers to voting. Ruby also spoke to outlets including NPR and the Canadian Broadcasting Company about the impact that young voters had on the midterm election results, and many local outlets on youth engagement in the Senate runoff race in Georgia.
For Ruby, these experiences at CIRCLE are rewarding because of the connections she builds with young people and civically engaged organizations around the country. She is a young person who is leading the way to engage other young people across the country. "There are so many incredible young people who are doing amazing work, and it's fun to be able to work with them directly, but also to support them indirectly by really uplifting young people's potential and power.”