Welcome to the inaugural class of '29. We've selected 29 graduating college seniors, entering the "real" world in 2018, to write about the state of their lives. What are their hopes, dreams, fears, stressors, failures, and successes as they leave school behind? We will be releasing new entries on a daily basis. If you would like yours to be considered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not what most people think of when they picture a Republican. Sure, I hunt and fish, listen to old school country music, support our farmers and veterans and skew much more conservative than most people.
But I don’t fit the old white guy stereotype. I’m a 21-year-old middle-class young woman who built my savings working at a diner. I’m a recent college graduate and the owner of a woodworking business where I make and sell rustic American flags. Oh, and I am also my political party’s endorsed candidate for New York’s 113th Assembly District.
Unlike many of my young female peers running for office this year, animosity for President Trump is not the driving force behind my involvement in politics. For me, there was no epiphany, no massive march or lightning bolt that told me now was my time to run.
Instead, it was a slow burn. Years of watching my state’s corrupt way of doing business drove me to seek change. The dozens of female lawmakers and candidates from my county inspired me to consider public office myself (as the saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see”). I may have even been influenced by the portrayal of strong, community-focused characters like Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope, who reinforced my pride in the idea that “all politics is local.”
My decision to become a candidate was solidified by a chorus of family, friends, and community members who told me Don’t wait your turn. Step up now, and run. Even with the encouragement, pulling it off hasn’t been easy. I left my college campus a year early and finished my final year thanks to a combination of online classes, understanding (and graciously lenient) professors and, once a month, a mega-commute from upstate New York to Washington, D.C. Throughout my senior spring semester, I’d drive seven hours to Washington on Monday morning, attend class from 5:30 p.m. to 10:50 p.m., get a burger from McDonald’s, crash on a recliner at my friend’s house, wake up at 6 a.m. and drive back home for campaign events on Tuesday night. To say I am happy to have finally graduated is an understatement.
Reaction to my candidacy has been overwhelmingly positive. And for that, I am thankful. But, as a 21-year-old candidate, I can’t be shocked when I encounter voters who are on the fence. To them, I am just “that young girl” they sometimes read about in the paper. It’s my job to get past that barrier and any stigmas they associate with millennials and Gen-Z by personally meeting and forming bonds with them. And then there are those critics who still think I should “wait my turn” and “earn my spot” as a candidate. That is the mindset we need to change. My response to those cynical political players is a “thanks, but no thanks.” To me, running for office is not about achieving a power position, it is about achieving results for my community.
And just because I’m running now doesn’t mean I’m planning on spending my entire career in politics. I am not running to have the title and use this seat as a stepping stone to the next office. I have a clear vision of what I would like to achieve in New York State. I am simply an American stepping up, which is exactly what our Founders envisioned. That is why I am proud to have set a 10-year term limit on myself. My personal motto is get in, get it done, and get out (if only more people in office had that mindset).
Many graduates on both sides of the aisle are worried about the future of our country. Am I? Not at all. We have intelligent, well-intentioned, principled Americans rising through the ranks of American business, politics, government and industry every day. I could not be more excited for the future of the United States. There is a lot to look forward to. And that’s not #FakeNews.
Morgan Zegers is a recent graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. with a B.A. degree in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government. D.C. Morgan is currently campaigning as the endorsed Republican candidate for New York State Assembly’s 113th District.