Third-year philosophy student Charlotte Goldberger has always been passionate about helping those in need, particularly young people. This past year, praise has started to roll in from the McGill community for her efforts in mentoring at-risk youth, and in helping to bring about social justice.
A five-time recipient of the Tomlinson Engagement Award for Mentoring, Goldberger was the recipient of the Arts Internship Research Award this past year for a summer project titled “Mandating Diversity Quotas on Jury Panels,” and was one of three recipients of the Chancellor Gretta Chambers Student Leadership Award at the recent McGill Alumni Association awards banquet.
Interested in giving back from a young age
Originally from Paris, Goldberger’s family moved to Chicago when she was young. Like many children, Goldberger struggled with being bullied, and dealt with severe anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. At age 14, she also came out as lesbian, with the support of her family. All of her early experiences helped shape her sense of empathy.
“When I was really young, my mom saw how much other people’s emotions affected me because I’m very sensitive, and how much I just wanted to help others through their struggles, even if that took a toll on me,” Goldberger says. “She tried to protect me a bit and help me build good coping skills. But throughout my education, like throughout my schooling, I would always volunteer to answer questions and explain things to students.”
As Goldberger went through school, her passion for mentoring others deepened, as did her sense of empathy for the kids she saw going through difficult times.
“I’m always on the lookout for my kids,” she says. “They share that they’re struggling. It’s always emotion regulation. It’s always helping them to develop tools and develop ways that they can speak out and process what they’re feeling and explain what they’re feeling to someone else so they can get help. It’s not part of my job description, but I think it’s just so important, because some kids are naturally better at expressing emotions, and some kids just struggle a bit more.
“It’s not something that’s really taught all that much, but I think it’s something we should teach, because I think it would really help.”
Chose McGill – to be able to live in French
After high school, Goldberger followed in her older sister’s footsteps and enrolled at McGill – to keep her in touch with her family and friends in Chicago, and to keep her in touch with her French roots in a French-speaking city.
“I wanted an environment where I could also be part of more of a francophone community, because that’s really important to me,” Goldberger says. “I feel like I’m around family, and I feel like I’m around people like me, who’ve experienced similar things as me. So that’s what really drew me to Montreal. And Montreal is a great city!”
Currently, Goldberger wears many hats apart from that of student. She volunteers for a group called Beyond Me, a student-run non-profit organization in Montreal that provides one-on-one mentoring and tutoring services for children and teenagers with special needs. Goldberger also had a hand in drafting an anti-sexual violence and anti-harassment policy for CKUT 90.3 campus radio.
During the winter 2022 semester, she also served as a judicial board justice for the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU). “I was given the opportunity to be presiding justice at a hearing,” Goldberger says. “That means that I led the entire hearing by myself. It was very interesting.”
Aiming for law degree
Goldberger plans to graduate in 2023. After that, she hopes to complete a master’s degree in social work, specializing in youth in distress. Then, she plans on going to law school, to fulfill her goal of defending young people experiencing difficulty.
“Whether that is working in a youth detention center or taking on cases and representing kids in court, I really want to be an advocate for them and give them the chance to have their voice be heard,” she says. “For example, you have a child who’s been caught stealing. I want to give them that opportunity to get the judge to hear them out. I just really want to make sure that they’re given the best possible opportunity to ensure the best possible outcomes for them and later in life.”
Goldberger hasn’t yet settled on whether she’d like to work in Montreal, or Chicago, or somewhere else, once she completes her studies.
“I’m not really limiting myself,” she says. “There’s currently a huge issue with child incarceration in the United States. I just want to serve whatever community needs me the most.”