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Public Service Project posts highlight students at colleges and universities across the country within the IOP’s National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement who are improving their communities through public service on their campuses.  As there are many different ways in which one can serve the public, the IOP aims to feature a broad collection of Campaign student public service experiences to inspire all of us to make a difference every day.

Authored by National Campaign Partricipant Hanna Hebert, Allegheny College.

Performing public service through advocacy and politics is especially important to me, both on my campus and in my community. I am currently an Undergraduate Research Fellow at Allegheny College’s Center for Political Participation. There, I arrange for and host well known public speakers for campus wide events which are also open to the local community. This year’s focus area is Civil Rights.

I also host events focused on political engagement. On November 5, Election Day, I was one of two students who hosted three events focused on citizenship. The first was a voter registration drive for college students. I feel voting is a not only an individual’s right, it is their duty as an American citizen. In non-Presidential election years, few citizens choose to vote despite the fact local politics are often what affects individuals most directly. If people want to have their voices heard they should start at the local level.

Thus, the second event featured a local state senator who spoke on his role in the community. Finally, we hosted a debate between College Democrats and College Republicans over the topic “student loans.” I wanted to show that not all issues are divided along partisan lines and that it is possible for the representatives of the two parties to agree. It also demonstrated the capability for civility in politics. We can disagree without being disagreeable!

Through my fellowship, I also help host “Town Hall” events where students gather to talk about current international and national issues. These events encourage students to share their opinions, while also raising awareness of a current event.

As I mentioned before, local politics is near and dear to me. As a result, I have worked on two local, grassroots, Congressional campaigns in my home state, one of which led to an astonishing victory. I have advocated for representatives who share my values through petitions, presentations and by placing voter phone calls. I have co-authored a pamphlet on how to run a grassroots campaign. I also serve as the youngest elected member to my local town political party’s committee. In this role I offer a different perspective on various issues than the majority of the members.

Furthermore, I have raised awareness to people that they have the freedom to vote and freedom of speech. Not everyone has these rights that we as Americans sometimes take for granted. Therefore, I want people to exercise their rights, regardless of whether their views are opposed to mine. Diversity of opinions can only make college communities, local communities and national communities better by creating understanding and by developing innovative ideas.

I believe young people feel that they cannot get involved in politics because they have little experience or they question what they can actually do. I feel I am an example to young people, showing them that you can get involved, both politically and socially, and make a difference.

Hanna Hebert is a junior at Allegheny College majoring in managerial economics and environmental studies. In addition to attending and working with the National Campaign, she is a Fellow at Allegheny College’s Center for Political Participation and is the youngest elected member of her political party’s local committee.