The Running Start Experience: More Than a Fellowship

November 4, 2010

My path to politics thus far has been short. It was not until my junior year of college that I became actively involved in politics. Before that year, the extent of my political involvement was casting my vote. However the 2008 presidential election inspired me so much that I became a campaign volunteer and learned about canvassing and voter registration. Later that year, I had also been exposed to my first sexist discriminatory experience. It ignited a passion in me that still exists today, and I am positive that my pursuit of feminist ideals and beliefs from that moment forward has placed me where I am today.

The Running Start STAR fellowship is much more than a typical fellowship or internship. It is more like an experience or life style. Although I enjoy working in my office each day, I also enjoy the Friday seminars where we are connected to prominent women around the DC area who are involved in politics. This fellowship has encouraged our participation in local political events as well as other local networking opportunities. Running Start truly wants us to become proactive women who work in politics and help get the message out about the importance of getting woman to run for office no mater what your political affiliation is.

The STAR fellowship has definitely given me the tools and confidence to continue to be a leader, to continue to work in politics, and to maybe even run for office. By using my newly founded networking skills, I was able to attend a lunch fundraiser for a young woman candidate. Her tale of persevering despite being challenged on so many levels and doing so with such grace inspired me once again. I was inspired to help campaign for her but also to run for office one day. She was truly poised as she encouraged anyone to run for office even if they had done silly things in the past. Her message of the importance of focusing on the ideals of the candidate and addressing discriminatory and sexist comments and actions resonated with me.

Tuesday was an important day for women candidates. Although it was great to see so many women running this cycle, the 112th CongressĀ  will still only have 4 women under the age of 40 in Congress. I believe this is a problem. In fact, I spent theĀ  two days before election day campaigning for a young woman congressional candidate, hoping that she would add to their ranks. I was able to canvass neighborhoods and participate in phone banking and it was truly gratifying to spend my time during this vital election cycle supporting a young woman candidate. Unfortunately, she did not win the seat. Despite this loss, however, I am positive that her campaign has inspired other young women like me to run for office.

– Chelsea P., Star Fellow Fall 2010

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