What am I doing here?

Tomorrow marks the end of my second full week interning at the League of Women Voters of the United States. LWV was the first internship opportunity I came across when I found out I had been selected for the Ewing, and it ended up being the first offer I received. I felt comfortable accepting almost immediately, because I could tell that the League was an organization that reflected my values  — and after just ten days here, I’ve realized that’s even more true than I knew. In the spirit of marking this phase of my education, I wanted to publish the writing sample I sent in with my application in February. I also want to do it, in a way, as a point of accountability for myself. I want to remember why I’m here. It’s not for $6 macarons and happy hours and resume lines, even though those might be fun perks. I’m here because even though I’m young and probably naïve, I want to make a difference. I want to live for humanity.

On January 11, 2013, I turned 18 years old. On January 12, I mailed in my application to become a registered voter in the state of Oklahoma. My first few times voting didn’t look particularly glamorous on the surface — mayor, school board, city council — but the ability to participate in both local and national elections was one of the biggest things I was looking forward to as a newly legal adult.

Since then, I have voted in a highly contested gubernatorial race and proudly mailed in my ballot for my party’s presidential primary election. On November 8, 2016, newly re-registered in my college town, I voted in my first presidential election. While the outcome of that election discouraged my friends and I in a deep, personal way, there were small successes. Thanks to effective voter education and grassroots outreach, Oklahoma passed key state questions reforming our sentencing requirements for non-violent drug offenses. We also voted to maintain separation of church and state by preventing state funds to be used for religious purposes, and also approved a measure to protect small agricultural operations from corporate deregulation.

I firmly believe that voting creates a unique sense of investment in citizens. I felt it last November, and I want everyone to be able to feel it. Living in Norman and attending the University of Oklahoma has shown me how passionate people get about local politics, and it’s also shown me the sheer willpower that grassroots political activists funnel into creating change. I’m not originally from Oklahoma, but I plan to return here to work in public policy after pursuing a master’s in public administration. Interning at the League of Women Voters would give me unique and hands-on experience in an area I’m extremely passionate about — voter empowerment and engagement.

Oklahoma is suffering. Our schools are bleeding money, and our best and brightest teachers literally cannot live off a public school salary. Rural districts are affected first and worst, and some have already moved to four-day school weeks. We lead the nation in women’s incarceration, primarily because of non-violent drug offenses. Political division and tension is high, and our congressmen — I say men deliberately, because at the federal level, they are all men — are frequently ranked as partisan and uncooperative. However, there is so much potential in this state as well. I see it every day when my mom tells me stories about her middle school science students, bright and energetic children from backgrounds of systemic poverty. I see it in my friends who work with me at the OU Daily student newspaper and as Civic Engagement Fellows at the Carl Albert Congressional Research Center. I see it when young women are elected to Norman’s city council and as state representatives, which has begun to happen more and more frequently.

I want to create change in Oklahoma and in our country. By interning at the League of Women Voters, I truly believe I could gain the skills and connections to make that dream a reality. I have extensive policy research experience thanks to my schoolwork, and am also familiar with basic web and graphic design procedures. I would especially love to serve LWV in the areas of grassroots membership outreach or elections and voter information, but I am happy to assist wherever needed and have a diverse skill set at your disposal.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and, most of all, thank you for the work you do to empower women and all American voters. We need you now more than ever.

Oh, and before I forget — last week, I had the opportunity to attend a rally on the Hill with my co-intern-in-crime. We wrote a blog post about it, and it was definitely a great experience.

While Medicaid covers a variety of communities, disability rights advocates have come front and center to oppose the AHCA and its proposed Medicaid caps. Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of Americans—including 44% of children with disabilities in the U.S.

Stay strong. Stay hydrated. Stay hungry. Much love.

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