The son of a career Air Force officer, Rashan Colbert ’11 has always aspired to serve his country. After graduating from Randolph, he contemplated joining the military or U.S. Foreign Service, among many other career fields. Ultimately, he followed the advice of his sister, Surayyah Colbert ’03, to take an unpaid internship with U.S. Rep. Judy Chu.
Since then, he has made connections and risen through the ranks and now works as a research aide for Cory Booker, a U.S. senator and 2020 presidential candidate.
“When I joined his office, Senator Booker was less than two-and-a-half years into his tenure, but had already made a notable impact just by the virtue of being only the fourth popularly elected black senator in the body’s long history,” Colbert said. “He’s an inspiring figure who I think just about anyone who agrees with his policy perspective would be proud to work for.”
In his three years working for the senator, Colbert has played a part in many of Booker’s legislative accomplishments, including passage of the First Step Act, a landmark bill to begin reforming America’s criminal justice system; the Anti-Lynching Bill; and multiple health care bills that were signed into law.
“It means a great deal to be part of this work,” Colbert said. “Working for something larger than yourself is an extremely rewarding experience. Whatever I do in the future, I know that my experience in this office is something I can proudly share with my children and grandchildren.”
Prior to joining Booker’s staff, Colbert was impressed by the senator’s reputation and hands-on attitude. He had read stories about the New Jersey senator shoveling constituents’ driveways, going on a 10-day hunger strike, and rescuing a person from a burning building. Now that he works for him, Colbert admires the senator even more.
“He’s an amazing boss and is the same in public as he is in private—extremely warm, friendly, polite, and energetic,” Colbert said. “My opinion of him has grown from just being impressed by his most public moments to having a deep respect and appreciation for his consistent record of fighting for others and the inspiring way he goes about doing so.”
At Randolph, Colbert majored in political science and studio art. Those college experiences, he said, have helped him immensely in his professional life.
“Studying political science gave me the ability to see complex issues from a macro perspective as opposed to just getting mired in the weeds of any particular issue,” Colbert said. “My studio art degree is less obvious, but no less impactful on my current career. Majoring in art, particularly my senior year, taught me about the importance of balancing and planning when taking on a huge amount of work in a self-structured environment.”
Despite his rise through the political ranks, Colbert has no plans to run for office himself.
“I think there are many ways to serve and make a positive impact on the United States and on the world,” Colbert said. “I hope to continue growing professionally and want to find the role where I can do the most good for the most people.”