I enrolled into the LSA internship program with very little expectation or guidance beyond throwing myself into what I believe to be the campaign of a lifetime, at least for a Michigander: Gretchen Whitmer for Governor. Knowing that the stakes for this gubernatorial race are incredibly high––with civil rights and healthcare, literally life or death matters of policy, in question––I dove headfirst into the unfamiliar abyss of politics.
And simultaneously the campaign volunteer intake form.
I first encountered Gretchen Whitmer back in late-2017, when the Larry Nassar headlines were starting to bubble up. We hadn’t garnered national headlines yet, that would come merely months later, but Gretchen took the time out of her race to meet in a dimly-lit conference room with a handful of women who had been grievously failed by the state’s infrastructure. She made time and space for us, and more importantly she listened. It was a significant moment in my life, because it was the first time that any person intimately involved with Michigan’s policy had stopped to listen.
Hours later, before the meeting drew to a close, Gretchen shared her story of sexual assault with us. It was the same story that she shared fearlessly on the Senate floor in an effort to combat a bill which would effectively force women to purchase healthcare in preparation for being raped. I knew, from that instant, that I had more in common with this candidate than any other in the gubernatorial bid. Further, I knew that I had to work for her.
After many days of anxious waiting, rounds of phone interviews given from the worn desk in my freshman dorm room, and so much optimism, the Gretchen Whitmer for Governor campaign contacted me to announce my addition to their team. I was ecstatic and utterly clueless as to what my internship would look like on the day-to-day. Enthusiasm glossed over my uncertainty, however, and on my first shift in the office it was decided: I was going to work in the communications department.
As this is my first campaign experience, I truly don’t know what to expect, nor can I comprehend the challenges ahead. But I know that they’ll be worth it, because I’m working for a women of integrity and empathy. So far, I have learned exponentially more about policy and media relations. At the end of the summer, I hope to learn more about myself.