This is the first in a series highlighting our fall fellows who will be completing their term at the end of this month. Andrea H. has served as a fall fellow in the North St. Louis County area. Below, she answers questions about her experience.
Why did you decide to make the commitment to become a Fellow?
I was motivated to join the campaign because I believe President Obama is the best progressive leader to continue to move this county forward. I am extremely passionate about social justice and I want to do all that I can to make sure that the President is able to continue making sure everyone has the same civil rights and opportunities. During the summer of 2011, I decided to make the commitment to join OFA and become a summer organizer. I felt it was a life-changing experience to be involved with the campaign from the beginning, and to help organize and motivate a community to become involved to re-elect President Obama. I wanted to remain active with the campaign, so I decided to stay on through the fall.
What do you think the benefit was of being a fellow instead of just a volunteer?
I feel like the benefit of being a fellow is you get the opportunity to be fully connected to a community. You are in charge of helping strengthen a neighborhood team or campus group by organizing voter registration drives, phone banks and working to re-engage supporters to help make their voice heard (and the campaign’s) in their own backyard. Also, the opportunity allows you to connect to other fellows and members of the campaign throughout the country.
What was your most rewarding experience working as a fellow?
The most rewarding experience I have had working as a fellow is meeting volunteers in my neighborhood as well as other team volunteers that are motivated to be a part of this campaign. It is inspiring to be around so many amazing people who are working together to fight for what they believe in. I get to meet so many individuals, each with a different personal story affirming why they have decided to support the President and get involved with his re-election campaign. We are a part of a bigger picture where people throughout the state of Missouri and the nation are a part of this auspicious movement.
How have you grown as an organizer since joining the fellow program?
I feel I have grown a great deal since first joining the program. This opportunity has made me realize how far I can push myself and that I can keep going. It has made me more determined to fight for what I believe in and strengthened my belief in equality and social change. It has justified my belief that when people come together we can truly be heard!
If you had to describe the program to a friend, how would you describe it?
I would describe summer and fall OFA programs to a friend as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain understanding and be a part of the political process. You will get the chance to understand what it feels like to be a community organizer because you are assigned an area to build and strengthen a volunteer foundation for the campaign. You build your leadership, organization, and communication skills. You also have the opportunity to strengthen your interpersonal skills when reaching out and motivating volunteers to be a strong voice in their community. You get the chance to empower a community!
The Fellow program can be a very trying experience at times. What did you learn most about yourself and the campaign process?
I learned that I continue to push myself to do whatever it takes to fight for what I believe in and what I believe is right. I learned that the campaign process can be a demanding atmosphere, but it takes a lot of time and manpower to move towards progress and change.
What do you see yourself doing in spring of 2012? What is your number one priority as a spring fellow?
I see myself building off the work that I have done in the summer and fall by continuing to get more volunteers involved with the campaign, getting more new voters registered and continuing to reach out to help build this campaign. My number one priority is to do whatever it takes to get the President re-elected for a second term. I will make as many calls as it takes and knock on as many doors as I can to make sure people know what the President has done, what he plans to do and why they should continue to support him in 2012.
What do you feel are the unique political challenges and possibilities facing youth in 2012?
The unique political challenges that are facing youth in 2012 are with the increasing cost of education, student loans looming after graduation and the current state of the economy. It is a lot to deal with at the time of life when you are hoping to find a career and life calling. However, there are many possibilities for young people in 2012 if they decide to get involved and fight for candidates that fight for grants, scholarships, and other benefits that will make education more affordable. I also believe that actively supporting candidates who work toward making sure America remains competitive and work to create new and innovative jobs is one way today’s youth can help build possibilities for their own future.
Why is it critical for youth to get engaged in 2012?
The youth are going to help decide what direction this country is headed. They can become active and care about what happens with their local and federal government, all of which has an impact on their lives. Young people can be a strong voice to ensure the changes they want to see in their government are made. The youth are the future of the country and they have the power - it is up to them to decide if they are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in or sit quietly and accept the status quo.