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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Preparing for political progress

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Photo by Photo by Annie Lui

The Elect Her Initiative has been training women who are interested in running for political office for the past seven year 

Featuring thoughts from Texas Representative Donna Howard and interactive campaign workshops, The Elect Her conference provided participants with hands on training for women interested in being political leaders.
Running Start, a national program focused on training women for political office, launched the Elect Her initiative in 2010: A day-long conference that includes campaign simulation, networking and a mock election. Partnering with the Texas A&M Women’s Resource Center in 2014, the Elect Her program allows women to improve skills for leadership in office.
Jessica Kelly, national director of the Elect Her program, said the interactive workshops allow women to think about the issues they are passionate about. From public speaking practice to campaign simulation, Kelly said introducing the idea of competition is good experience for the program participants.
“Our philosophy is that it’s still beneficial to run for an office even if you’re not sure you’re going to win, because it’s still building skills, expanding your network, so it’s win-win no matter what the outcome of the elections is,” Kelly said.
As a first generation college student, Kelly said she didn’t understand the importance of holding a leadership position. She said she wants to show young women that running for office is an opportunity they should not pass up.
“One of the reasons I really love working with this program is because when I was an undergrad I didn’t run for student government and I wasn’t really involved,” Kelly said. “It took me longer than I would have like to realized, so I really like being a part of a program that helps young women to make that discovery earlier than I did, so that they have a leg up.”
Speaker of the Texas A&M Student Senate Jasmine Wang was featured on the student leader panel at the conference. Wang said although she was aware of her own passion for running for an elected office, she wants to encourage other women around campus to take that chance as well.
“Elect Her is a great opportunity for women to get that experience and to ensure that their voices are heard,” Wang said. “Being in student government here at A&M I feel has really prepared me for my future aspirations and I want other women to have that same feeling.”
Toward the end of the event, participants, including international studies sophomore Melissa Rodriguez, were excited to share their campaign ideas with students throughout the MSC. Rodriguez said it is important for women to be involved in politics so issues can be communicated more more effectively.
“Being a minority and a woman can be discomforting at times,” Rodriguez said. “Seeing the polarization amongst us throughout this country, I think it’s important for us to come together to solve issues regardless of what you identify with because these issues will not be resolved unless we learn to get along with one another.”
With so many issues she is passionate about, Rodriguez said participating in Elect Her has increased her confidence for running for an elected position on campus in the future.
“This conference is definitely encouraging us,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like it’s helping me learn a lot more about these things and push myself. I’m out here talking to random strangers. I’m an international studies major and I want to get into politics someday, so I thought to myself ‘I should probably get involved with more of this stuff,’ so I applied, and I’m glad because I’m learning a lot.”

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