Howard University Elect Her planning committee members Angel Mills and Kristin Tellis. Photo by Phoebe Farris of AAUW DC Branch
Building your network is key to seeking elected office in college or in your community. Last Saturday, at Howard University’s Elect Her—Campus Women Win training, that is just what occurred. The women who attended Elect Her, a training that encourages and trains young women to run for student government, built relationships and connections with both students and faculty. More importantly, they learned one of the most important lessons about running for office: you can’t do it alone.
“The Elect Her training created an environment where there was activity that sponsored growth,” attendee Sondai Costley said. “Public speaking is one of my fears, and I was able to work on it.”
Students heard from many inspiring and informative speakers. The Honorable Marilynn Bland, Clerk of Circuit Court, Prince George’s County, MD shared her experience gained from many years of public service.
“Public office really is about service. You don’t have to have all the knowledge; you have to have the heart and willingness to learn,” Honorable Bland said.
Honorable Bland encouraged students to run for office and gave them some advice on the skills needed to run for office. She said communication, listening, and time management skills are key.
Students were able to put many skills into action, including public speaking. Also, many students who attended the training have already declared that they’re running for office.
“I am running for UGSA representative for the Communications Department. The campaign simulation was great practice,” attendee Jobina Fortson said.
Rachel Sanni is running for HUSA Vice President. She was inspired by the number of women who were running for student government positions. “It was nice to see that people have the same shortcomings that I have,” Sanni said. The Elect Her training gave Rachel the opportunity to put her skills to work and ask people to vote for her during the campaign simulation. She was able to gain the most votes, winning the mock election. These skills will prove useful as she mounts her campaign in the upcoming weeks.
Your most powerful tool when running for office is your network–whether it be for support, advice, financial contributions, or simply votes. Networking is all about building relationships and being of service when you can. Your network is a tool that you should start building now and that you will continue to build your entire career.
This post was written by She Should Run Programs Director Julie Daniels and cross-posted from AAUW