How Being Politically Active Changes Lives

If they told me 3 years ago that I’d be living in Dayton, Ohio, working with a political campaign and have more than 100 friends here — I wouldn’t have believed them. If they told me that I would actively care about the results of the mid-term election or go door to door campaigning for candidates — I wouldn’t believe them. But it’s true. This is my life now. It’s been this way since January of 2009 when I started working on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. That first job was a part-time gig as an office assistant ($12/hr) where we worked out of a windowless basement office filled with computers at 11 pm every night knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters across Florida. It was gruelling. I put in 90 hours every pay period, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked from day one. The volunteers were inspirational and the passion everyone had for our country drove me to do whatever I could to help win the election of what would later become my President, Barack Obama.

It’s not as if this is where my story begins though; far from it actually. If you asked me in 2007 where I saw myself or even who I thought I wanted to be — there isn’t a chance in hell that politician would have come upon that list of possibilities. My life has changed ever so slightly since 2008 when Barack Obama won his historic presidential campaign and again since 2009 when he took office and appointed me to a position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Since then my life has gone from odd and ordinary to exciting and extraordinary. I’ve been to three Democratic National Conventions, two State Party Conventions, travelled around Ohio helping with campaigns and even had one of my meetings with President Obama himself — all things that most people would consider extremely out of the ordinary. But yet they’re part of my everyday life now; part of who I am as a person now… and it’s fascinating! It’s not just me though, you could ask anyone that I work with or that is close to me whether they thought this was where their lives were headed 3 years ago or 7 months ago; everyone will tell you that they wouldn’t have seen any of this coming.

What I like to think is that this journey started the day before my junior year in college when I signed up for a seminar called “Political Campaigns and Elections” because it was something different to do. It’s funny now, looking back because the class was boring at best — sitting there listening and writing down facts that would be forgotten within days or weeks while trying to stay awake during the lectures on campaign finance reform or some other dry topic. But what I didn’t know then is that the teacher of the class, Dr Phil McGregor, has had more influence in shaping me into who I am today than anyone else in my life except for maybe my parents. He’s given me what I would consider being some of the best advice that I’ve ever gotten on how to succeed in life and his words have continually kept me going through all of the challenges, successes and everything in between over these last few years.