Each summer the graduating seniors of College Democrats of Connecticut and of our chapters go on to do amazing things. Some stay directly involved in Connecticut politics while others take their CDCT experiences further afield. This post is the sixth in our Alumni Spotlight series which will highlight our amazing alums.
1. Since graduating, what are you now doing?
Since graduating, I’m completing a Democracy Fellowship with FairVote, an electoral reform nonprofit that essentially works to make every vote and every voice count in every election. My fellowship will last one year, and in this position I’ll be able to do a little of everything with the organization.
2. Why do you find this position/job interesting?
I find it interesting because I can look at the problems in politics and elections from a structural perspective. I never before realized how many of the problems with our system actually have their roots in how we vote, how we structure our district, and so forth. For example, one of FairVote’s favorite reforms is called ranked choice voting – which means letting voters rank candidates in order of preference (Like, 1,2,3) instead of just having to pick one at the ballot. That way, when the votes are tallied, the lowest vote getting candidate is eliminated and everyone who picked that candidate first has their votes transferred to their second choice candidate. The process continues until there are only two candidates left or someone reaches a majority of the vote – whichever comes first. This is great because it completely nullifies the spoiler effect and makes it so that voters can really vote their conscience without worrying about splitting the vote. Ranking candidates instead of just picking one has a whole slew of effects on negative campaigning, polarization, and on and on. It’s been so cool to learn that such small change in how we vote can effect so many of the problems we face in politics. And then not only that, I get to come in everyday and work to see those reforms happen across the country. Awesome!
3. What did CDCT and/or your College Chapter mean to you?
The UConn College Democrats were like my second family during college. Every time I was getting discouraged about our political system or our chances of making real change, the UConn Dems always kind of renewed my faith in the process. They were so passionate, and dedicated to fighting for democratic issues even when the odds were stacked against us, which was completely inspiring on a daily basis.
4. What advice do you have for other college Democrats in the state?
I would say definitely don’t get so caught up in the hard work of campaigning that you forget how fun, interesting and engaging political work really can be. Some of my favorite memories from College Democrats were the inside jokes that sprung up with our group, and the inevitably hilarious stories you collect from dorm storming a few times a month. Shout out in particular to my Treasurer during my two terms as President of the UConn Dems, Andy O’Sullivan, who’s reoccurring parody
5. How did your involvement with College Dems help you get where you are today?
I think working with the UConn Dems just kind of reminded me how really limitless the boundaries of student organizing are. Working with that great group of people over three years transferred my whole thought process of campaigning from “Why would we be able to pull this off?” to, “Why the heck wouldn’t we be able to pull this off?” They proved again and again how huge of an impact a small, dedicated, resourceful group of students can have on campus – and that attitude continues to shape everything I do in nonprofits and advocacy today.