Student Service Project Report: Summer 2016, AMH 2020
“Try not to become a person of success. Rather become a person of value.”
― Albert Einstein
There were many ideas that came to mind when it came to volunteering, but I wanted to do something that I knew that I could make a direct difference in. This year is an election year, so I helped a close friend, Rocky Hanna, work on his political campaign for Superintendent of Schools in Tallahassee, FL. “Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” These are the words of Rita Pierson, a person words inspired his campaign run. I was really excited about getting behind and helping out someone that I believe in, especially because he is someone that I personally know and personally trust. It felt great to get behind a cause, even if that “cause” is a person. I believe that if you believe in a candidate and their ideas, a win can be a victory for everyone. I also believe that his victory can help improve the schools in our area, which is good for our community.
Rocky has always been a great leader since his days as a Principal at Leon High School. I know that he has what it takes to be a great Superintendent. Ever since I had the chance to be alongside him, I see that he has a complete and clear vision for Tallahassee. I was excited to go to work and help out, but initially I was intimidated because I had no idea how things worked on a campaign. I let him know that I wanted to help out in any ways that I could and learn as much as possible. I had no idea what I was in for. My first task was to deliver and place yard signs all over Tallahassee. I never knew that campaigns get calls and emails from supporters who want those signs.
My second task was to talk to people while wearing a campaign t-shirt. One thing I love about Tallahassee is that you can strike up a conversation with any grocery store checker, waitress, or even a person in an elevator. It was really interesting because I found myself getting to know people who otherwise I would have never spoken to. I was also exposed to people with very different views than my own, though, thankfully, many people agree on the values of education and equality for students. As a person that grew up in Tallahassee, I thought I was extremely familiar with my community, but I was mistaken. Learning about the political climate and neighbor-next-door voters showed me that life is not quite how you see it from your own perspective. I learned that there are real issues at play. I got the opportunity to see and learn more about my community. Working on this campaign challenged me to think. I also found myself going to a couple different events and fundraisers locally. I knocked on random community doors and spoke with dozens of real people.
This service project really impacted me in many ways. It made me think about my educational journey and where I want to go with it. I really enjoyed the feeling of making a contribution in my community. It has made me more thankful for the opportunities and privileges that I have had in my life. I never thought working on a campaign would be one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had. I spent hours knocking on doors randomly and burning up in the hot sun, but there was plenty of fun-filled stuff in between. Another great aspect of the campaign was doing everything alongside my friends. Working with friends on something that you believe in gives you a selfless and rewarding feeling you cannot even describe. I really do think that every college student should work on a political campaign at least once before they graduate. Hopefully, this will lead to higher voter turnouts, because we would all learn how important voting is and how much of an impact we can have in our local communities just by getting involved. I also realized that volunteers are hard to come by. When I showed up to help Mr. Rocky, I could really see how appreciative he was. He told me that he would always remember who was with him to help get elected. While my volunteering for this project is over, I will still be out helping him campaign until the election.