My Suitcase and The Hope Institute

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When I moved to Washington, D.C. last January, I had nothing but my suitcase and high hopes. Today, I work with the best digital team in politics at the Democratic National Committee.

The reason I am a Democrat is rooted in my upbringing. I'm from a small town in Upstate, New York, where my mother, a public school teacher, raised my brother and me on her own. She taught us the value of a public education and that you always give back to those that have helped you along the way.

My education as an organizer began at the University at Albany where I became involved with the College Democrats and LGBT advocacy. During my senior year, I pushed for gender-inclusive housing to give every student the opportunity to receive a quality and enjoyable higher education. Working on that issue, I began using social media to engage students to create a buzz on campus. By fall 2012, we'd won -- all the students at my school were able to live in a comfortable and accessible living space of their choosing on campus.

Last May, a friend encouraged me to apply for the DNC’s Hope Institute. It was the start of a new initiative -- inviting 40 young people from underrepresented backgrounds to come to Washington, D.C. to learn from the top political and campaign leaders in the Democratic Party.

The Hope Institute is a three day inspirational campaign bootcamp, jam packed with speeches from 2012 campaign operatives, a hands-on campaign simulation, and networking with other young political activists from around the country. Hearing from DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Jim Messina and Robert Gibbs, among others, about the challenges and triumphs of politics made me realize how their experiences reflected many of the experiences of the Fellows in the room. I only regret not having more time to learn and bond with the 40 other young people that each had a story to tell of their own.

The Hope Fellows I met will be the future of progressive change and this experience has only motivated me to keeping pushing until we make it happen. Today, I continue to work and learn new digital organizing skills so that I can keep working for Democrats fighting to make a more inclusive and strong country for all.