Running Start was the highlight of my high school year. It was wonderful to be among 50 girls who were so accomplished and just remarkable, and I absolutely loved being in the middle of the political spectrum! Even though we came from all over the U.S., spoke various languages, and had different backgrounds, we all had the same vision: to become successful leaders and not only involve ourselves, but also other women in politics. Media training, and learning how to run a successful campaign, and networking with women and men who work for the government, non-profits, and other companies and organizations in D.C. were the highlights of the retreat. Throughout the various events and programs, my passion for politics augmented profoundly.
I was surprised to learn that women compose only 16% of congress although we represent 51% of the population. Visiting with congresswomen and congressmen on Capitol Hill, and listening to prominent women in politics, such as DeeDee Meyers and Julianna Smoot, reinforced the critical need to involve more women in politics and to increase the number of women serving in elected office. Running Start gave me the confidence, training, encouragement, and support, that “running start” that I needed, and it has inspired me to run for political office someday.
Lakshmi Somasundaram is an alumni of the 2009 Running Start’s Young Women Political Leadership Retreat and is a freshman at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She is a representative in the Student Government Association, writes for India Abroad, Bi-Co, the student newspaper for Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges, and is actively involved in the South Asian Women club at Bryn Mawr. Lakshmi loves to choreograph and perform Bharathanatyam and Western dance fusions. Her interests include biology, political science, and humanitarian service. By volunteering at Kasthurba Gandhi Kanya Gurukluam, home for 2,000 orphan and underprivileged girls in tsunami-affected southern India, Lakshmi has realized that her passion is to make a global impact by empowering the underprivileged.