This is the fourth in a series highlighting our fall fellows who will be completing their term at the end of this month. Eric B. has served as a fall fellow at St. Louis University. Below, he answers questions about his experience.
Why did you decide to make the commitment to become a fellow?
I wanted to be a part of something big. There will only be one Obama 2012 campaign and I wanted to be on the ground working to get someone I believe in re-elected.
What was the benefit of being a fellow instead of just a volunteer?
As a fall fellow I felt a larger sense of responsibility. I also felt as though I was truly part of the inner workings of the campaign. As a fall fellow you also have access to so many resources and support from campaign staff and other fall fellows.
What was your most rewarding experience working as a fellow?
One of my most rewarding experiences was getting so many students on campus to register to vote!
How have you grown as an organizer since first joining the fellow program?
I have gained so many new skills. I have truly learned the importance of being an organizer. A community organizer empowers people to make positive change and I feel like I am now much more prepared to do that.
If you had to describe the program to a friend, how would you describe it?
I would describe the program as an organizing boot camp. You jumphead first into the world of organizing. It's a whirlwind but it's so worth it and you can learn so much.
The fellow program can be a very trying experience at times. What did you learn most about yourself and the campaign process?
I learned that I was more resilient than I thought. There are challenging experiences but you can't let them get you down and you have to keep on trucking.
What do you see yourself doing in spring of 2012? What is your number one priority as a spring fellow?
I see myself continuing to build my on campus team so that we can be a powerful force in re-electing Barack.
What do you feel are the unique political challenges and possibilities facing youth in 2012?
One unique challenge is that the other party is trying to silence youth voters. They don't want us to be heard. There are bills being tossed around in several states to require photo IDs and restrict voter registration drives (youth voters are more likely to be registered through a drive).
Why is it critical for youth to get engaged in 2012?
To get the youth involved we need to stress youth-specific issues. We needs to show how one party wants to empower the youth while the other party would rather see the youth disenfranchised and powerless.