Many Types of Leaders
In Rocklin, CA, a small town outside of Sacramento, there is a different kind of Community College. A community college where involvement and passion are high and a drive to take advantage of resources is strong. Sierra College is the educational home for a student population as interested and dedicated as any four year college. Sierra College is the only community college in the Elect Her program and it is clear why.
On a Saturday morning nearly 40 students, men and women, young and old, gathered to join in the discussion about why women should run for office. A community college has a much more diverse student population and as a result, we had a unique day of training with input from middle aged men new to the US and driven 20 year old women looking for the tools to lead.
We had the honor to hear from Placer County 5th District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. She helped us all realize the dedication and passion needed to make running for public office worth it. She helped us realize the strength it takes to run as a woman, in her first election she was the only female candidate in a pool of four. She explained that she needed to work harder and smarter to make up for the discrepancy. She said early on in her presentation, “Running for office, no matter what office, is a job for a woman”. Everyone is the room responded to her real life experience, and appreciated her dedication to improving the lives of the people in her community.
A panel of current student government officials spoke with us candidly about what doing this job really means at Sierra College. The President of Student Government, Carol Geis, helped us understand that running and being elected for student government is a job bigger than people understand. She is in charge of a sizable budget, and the spokesperson for all Sierra College students to the College President’s office, Board of Trustees and Faculty. But with the responsibility comes great reward. She believes that the experience she has gained from doing this job has made her more confident and capable.
The trainees participated in a campaign simulation where they had to craft and deliver stump speeches in order to win votes. Many in the room were intimidated by the process but as they got more comfortable with the idea the room filled with energy and people started to want to win. Our final candidates, two men and a woman, stood up in front of the whole group, delivered their speeches, and asked for their support. Much to her surprise Alyssa Hurst was the victor. Getting a great majority of the votes. She said afterward what a fulfilling experience Elect Her was, “the perfect combination of information and fun!” We were all lucky she was part of the day.
The very root of our discussions that day were, you shouldn’t have to run because you are a woman, quite the opposite, if you want to run, being a woman shouldn’t stop you. I have a sneaking suspicion 10 years from now I’ll be hearing about some of these young women again.
This post was written by Elect Her facilitator Kelly Grace Gibson