Internship Spotlight: Elizabeth Strong

My name is Elizabeth Strong and I am a rising U4 Honours Political Science student with a double minor in Communications and Management. Though I am a dual citizen to Canada, I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and it was there that my interest in political science, government, and democracy began. While attending Denver East High School, I participated in ‘We the People’ which is a competitive civic education program focusing on knowledge of the United States Constitution, American history, and government. My high school’s team won both our district and state competitions to advance to the national finals and ultimately took second place out of 54 teams at the 2016 national competition in Washington, D.C. It is primarily this program that ignited my interest and led me to choose to study Political Science at McGill University.

This summer, I worked as a remote intern in the Field and Finance Departments of former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s campaign for the US Senate. The US is at a turning point in our history. As this is an election year, there is a real opportunity to create lasting change and alter the direction the country is going in. I want to be a part of that change and my internship with Governor Hickenlooper’s campaign gave me the opportunity to do just that. Though a single congressional seat may not seem that significant, it is one more voice in the Senate promoting issues that have been overlooked for far too long, and it is one seat closer to flipping the Senate. Congressional races are often overshadowed by presidential elections and thus disregarded by many. As an intern in the Field Department my primary focus was working on “get out the vote” campaigns and encouraging citizens to participate in state-level elections. My main responsibilities included phone-banking and conducting voter outreach research, but the Field team was also frequently responsible for a variety of special projects in conjunction with other departments in the campaign. My internship has now been extended into the fall, although I will be working primarily in the Finance Department, a branch in which I built experience over the course of the summer.

For me, the biggest highlights of the internships were moments where we got to hear from Governor Hickenlooper personally. This included a very special Zoom call with the team after Governor Hickenlooper won the primary election to become the Democratic candidate going into the fall election. The team’s excitement was palpable, and it was very rewarding to see the tangible results of our efforts, and to have our value as interns recognized by the Governor himself. Another highlight for me was getting to participate in filming a campaign advertisement where we got to speak with the Governor in-person. This was a really special opportunity to connect with the Governor one-on-one and is an experience I will never forget.

My experience with this campaign has influenced my future career and education path in reminding me of why I chose to study political science in the first place. It can be all too easy to lose sight of the greater picture in the blur of midterms, research papers, and late nights cramming for exams at the library. But this campaign reminded me of the thing that drew me to political science back in high school: the right to vote. The right to vote is the right to a voice. Voting is a fundamental right and yet it is a right that is not only often neglected, particularly in elections below that of the president, it is a right that is often denied unjustly. In the US, the right to vote is supposed to be guaranteed to all citizens equally, but through various barriers such as voter identification requirements or felon disenfranchisement laws, access to the right to vote is decidedly not equal. This internship reminded me that I want to take part in dismantling those barriers. My experience has renewed my interest in attending law school and launching a career in either civil rights or constitutional law and using my education and passion to fight injustice in voting and beyond.

Thank you, Mr. Garvin Brown, for giving me the opportunity to pursue this unpaid internship by giving me the honor of receiving the Susan Casey Brown Fund for McGill. Without this financial support, I may not have been able to seize this opportunity, and through it reignite my passion for political science.

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