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Lessons learned through partaking in a presidential campaign

Hillary Clinton Campaigning at a rally this October. Photo used with permission by Britannica ImageQuest.

Hillary Clinton Campaigning at a rally this October. Photo used with permission by Britannica ImageQuest.

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I’m sitting at my desk on a typical Tuesday night in September, color coding a periodic table, when my phone goes off. I look at my phone and see myself getting a call from an unidentified caller. I pick up and a cheery voice is on the other line: “Hi, is Frances available? My name is Emily and I’m calling with the Wisconsin Democrats.” I answer reluctantly, but soon the call turns into a 20-minute conversation that ends with me meeting a total stranger at a Fiddleheads the following afternoon.

Now, I do not endorse meeting random strangers in coffee shops that called you at 10 p.m. the night before, but I did, and I met Emily Schnee, a college graduate from Long Island New York, who moved to Wisconsin. Schnee currently lives in a sponsor’s home while running the Stronger Together campaign in Ozaukee County. After a short interview, Emily told me I should apply for a fellowship position in the Hillary Clinton campaign and that I seem, “way too qualified to be fifteen.” I go home and frantically type out an essay on what I could bring to the campaign, and a week later I’m driving with my mom to Waukesha for my first fellowship training.

We arrive at a rented out storefront on Main Street, covered in “I’m with Her” and “Stronger Together” campaign signs. I introduce myself to a dozen enthusiastic young adults and we start learning about VAN. VAN is a very complicated computer system designed by some tech geniuses in Boston that catalogs the Democratic National Committee’s phone calls and online databases. After totally losing my head in computer programming and campaign jargon, I emerged three hours later with five phone packets and a phone bank to run in a week.

I spent the next two months meeting some of the kindest and smartest people I know, making hundreds of phone calls and knocking on the doors of local community members. In the blink of an eye, however, we reached November 5 and with that our four-day powerhouse pushed to get people out to vote, through a program creatively named “Get Out The Vote”.

GOTV was four grueling 15 plus-hour days, where our lovely team of ladies, all dedicated to electing the first woman president, coordinated a massive effort to get big voter turnout.

This experience taught me so much about what it means to really do your civic duty and how to handle tough situations. However,  most importantly, working on the campaign taught me to step out of my comfort zone and meet new people. So even though the election didn’t go the way I wanted, the people and lessons that I learned are unforgettable.

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Lessons learned through partaking in a presidential campaign