December 6, 2019Laura Bryant [View Image]
As a student, alumna Laura Bryant was preoccupied with state and local races in Virginia rather than federal elections. But that all changed in 2016 when she participated in an intersession class titled Political Campaigns and Communication taught by Professor Allie Reckendorf, Ph.D.
This intersession course took place during winter break and offered students the chance to travel to New Hampshire where they attended a student political convention, visited campaigns and met several candidates. “Since 2016 was the first presidential election I was able to vote in, the class provided me with a lot of knowledge about who was running and what the process of working for a presidential candidate was like up close and personal,” explains Laura.
The trip sparked a passion in Laura for political campaigns. After graduating in 2018, Laura went to work for U.S. Senator Tim Kaine and State Senator Monty Mason. She credits them for her career because both experiences encouraged her personal and professional growth. “Interning for Senator Kaine during the last bit of the presidential election in 2016 was surreal, and yet, he was a very down-to-earth person through the whole process.” She still keeps in touch with the staff today. a group of volunteers poses with presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke [View Image]
Most recently, Laura served as the state political director for Beto O’Rourke’s New Hampshire presidential campaign. “Being Beto’s political director in New Hampshire was unlike anything I’ve done before, yet it also built upon all the various skills I learned prior to this job,” says Laura. “It’s not lost on me that not many people my age had a position such as this and I’m really thankful that this campaign believed in me enough to hold this job.” Although no day was the same, her position involved reaching out to people across the state and elevating the issues most important to them to Beto’s national team.
One of the most inspiring parts of the campaign was meeting all the other Beto supporters. “I believed in Beto because of all the people I worked with who have put their lives on hold to get him elected. They had that much faith in him,” Laura says. “We had folks all the way from Texas who moved up here to knock on doors for him. We had people who had never been involved in politics before working and volunteering for Beto. He inspired people as I’ve never seen before.” (Beto eventually pulled out of the race on Nov. 1.)
Laura isn’t sure what her next steps are, but she believes strongly in student political involvement. “Government affects everything we do day-to-day, and if we don’t understand how it works, then we can’t ensure that it does its job properly,” she says. “We live in a country with a government that prides itself on the quote ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ The only way we can hold ourselves to that is by being involved as much as possible.”