As students around the country head back to school, we’re featuring one of our younger supporters. Austin was a summer organizer in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
At 16, Austin won’t be eligible to vote in 2012—but that only inspires him to work harder on this campaign.
“I’ll miss the election by a month,” he says. “It’s a little disappointing, but I figure if I can spread the word of this movement, maybe I can have an effect. It’s almost like I can vote, just in different ways.”
Even though he won’t be able to cast a ballot himself in the presidential election, Austin is serious about getting out the vote.
“I get frustrated when I hear that some of my friends don’t plan to vote. People in this country fought hard for the ability to vote, and to make this government. It’s far from perfect, but the only way we’ll move forward is if people step up. And it doesn’t even take that long.”
Austin came to the campaign through Twitter.
“I was messing around on my phone one day, and I saw a friend had sent me a post from Barack Obama’s Twitter account. I read the post, and I wound up writing this long answer to why ‘I’m in.’ I researched the President and found out about his policies, so I knew what I liked about him. I just think he’s moving the country forward, and I wanted to get involved and make a difference.”
For Austin, his time as a summer organizer helped him to connect with other supporters in his hometown.
“It’s been so great. I would go to campaign events and take pictures and write blog posts for our state page, and everyone was so welcoming and nice even though I was always the youngest one there. There’s no way I would have gotten to meet any of those people without the campaign, and we’ll definitely stay in touch.”
Austin also learned some surprising lessons this summer.
“Like any 16-year-old, Twitter and Facebook are a big part of my life—but seeing them used in this kind of way was really cool. I learned a lot about grassroots organizing.”
He says being summer organizer took “a lot of time, and a lot of work. Once I had five or six events in one night—it got tiring, going from place to place, but in the end it was well worth it.”
“Probably my favorite part of the summer was that I got to volunteer when the President came to town, and I got to meet him. One of the photos I took this summer was turned into an ad online, and another was posted on the President’s Facebook page. That was pretty cool—not many 16-year-olds can say they’ve done that.”