What does it mean to have hope? For me, hope is about everyday people who want to bring change to American public policy. I believe in the progressive message embodied by the Democratic Party and President Obama. Barack Obama inspires me because he works to create a better America for people like me. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that these people would no longer be ignored and that all Americans would have access to affordable health care. Today, that promise is coming true.
As the recipient of a heart and kidney transplant, I am one of the many Americans whose fight for quality, affordable health insurance changed when PresidentObama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. That moment proved to me that we have to make sure the right leaders are elected to bring the change that we desire. In 2008, I volunteered on the Obama for America campaign to elect Barack Obama and give millions of Americans like me the peace of mind health care coverage brings. Today I am no longer a hopeful high school student and campaign volunteer; now I am a Hope Fellow with the Democratic National Committee. I was encouraged to apply by a friend and little did I know how much this experience would change my life.
The Hope Institute began as an initiative to engage and train the next generation of political leaders who come from underrepresented communities. I met with young leaders from across the country, and we were all inspired to begin careers in civic service through political activism. Collectively, we learned that politics is not about winning an election but making a commitment to improving and shaping a better world for future generations.
The Fellows heard from leaders including Chair of the DNC, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC Vice Chair for Voter Protection and Registration Donna Brazile, and former Obama Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter. In addition, we received trainings on effective community organizing from Democratic strategists. The education we received was priceless, and we left with a determination to become future change makers and political officials. Each of us will take the skills learned from the Hope Institute to initiate social and political change in our own communities. Change starts with young people like me, and the Hope Institute gave me the platform to change the world.