Blogger: Julius DiLorenzo
When I was 17—a junior in high school— I found solace in volunteering on the Illinois Senate campaign. I was at that point in life where I was too angsty to be hanging at home but not quite old enough to have anywhere else to go…and then I discovered political campaigns. Converted offices filled with excited and passionate young (and not so young) people engaged in the world. Nobody cared that I was in high school or that I had homework to do or that I still didn’t have a driver’s license. Everyone would work and laugh and tell stories and eat and stay at the office until sometimes 9pm—even on school nights! And then I met Dimitri.
Dimitri was a college junior from Occidental working on the campaign through a program at his school called Campaign Semester. “It’s this really cool course,” he explained. “You get a full semesters credit working anywhere in the country on a competitive race. It’s like study abroad coupled with an internship, all the while working full time on your campaign.” What bizarre, liberal arts brouhaha was this guy pitching to me---and where do I sign up???
Four years later, here I am in the heart of New Orleans working on Senator Mary Landrieu’s reelection race through none other than Oxy’s Campaign Semester. How did this happen? I found a school off the beaten path with programs that I knew would allow me to thrive. I stayed true to my goals, getting involved in the politics department over the past two years, and when it came time to sign up for Campaign Semester, I was first in line. (There was a little more involved in my past two years—check out my earlier blog posts to learn more).
Since arriving to New Orleans on August 27th, the first day of Oxy’s fall semester for all my friends back on campus, I’ve spent the past 35 days working around the clock in the headquarters learning the inner workings of a campaign. While living in New Orleans has been an experience in itself, being a part of the election is the most energizing thing I’ve done in a while. In some ways, it’s exactly what I hoped for four years ago in high school when applying to Oxy. In other ways, no one can prepare you for the labor that goes into a campaign. I’ve done everything from reaching out to Baptist ministers to setting up and organizing events with everyone: from community college students to Bill Clinton (that’s right-- I met Bill Clinton: Reason #392 to sign up for campaign semester).
Was this one of the best choices I made at Oxy? Yup. That being said, I’m super pumped to get back to campus. Nothing makes you appreciate and miss Oxy more than spending a semester off it. Not only will it be exciting to catch up with my fellow campaign semesters for the class component that occurs on campus after the election—but it will be great to be back in the community that I have spent the past two years building. I’m eager to be in the classroom once more with time to read books and work out (or just have a spare minute--luxuries hard to find on the campaign grind).
So when looking at schools, definitely pay attention to the specific programs each college offers and whether that can be something that would propel you and your goals. While things like school size and location are equally important…well, let’s just say it’s not every college junior that is spending a semester abroad in New Orleans