How a Mentor Illuminated My Path to Political Leadership

Two years ago, as a young woman with big dreams and an unknown path, I walked onto Ohio State’s campus for NEW Leadership Ohio. I was there that summer because the program empowers women to be politically engaged. It was the first time that I was surrounded by politically charged young woman. We listened to incredible speakers, participated in workshops, and met strong men and women who work in politics. One of the speakers I met at the conference was a woman named Nancy Bocskor. She spoke to us about the power of storytelling and how to fundraise for the causes we are passionate about. Nancy quickly became more than just a speaker I heard once — she’s my mentor and one of my biggest champions.

The summer of 2015 quickly came and went. I eventually started to find my way and moved to Washington, DC from my small home town of Roaming Shores, Ohio, to begin one of my biggest adventures. My school partners with American University to offer The Washington Semester Program, which brought me to DC. Through the program, I took classes at AU and gained additional experience through an internship. My now-mentor, Nancy Bocskor, happened to be looking for an intern, so I applied and Nancy took me under her wing. In the five months that I lived in Washington and worked with Nancy I became more confident in who I was. It brought a spark of light and passion back into my personality that I felt I was missing. I listened to Nancy weekly as she taught fundraising, and learned so much by listening and watching her. Nancy is a strong woman because of her amazing accomplishments and, more importantly, because she helps other women find their worth and passions.

I returned to Marietta College to finish my degree, promising myself I would be back in Washington, DC before too long. I was not quite sure how I would get there; I just knew that was where I wanted to be. Nancy and I kept in touch. Talking about my plans, career goals, and current ideas with Nancy always brought me a sense of security and confidence. Importantly, she helped me when I was trying to figure out what to do after college. As graduation day approached, Nancy sent me a message telling me to apply for Running Start’s Star Fellowship. Running Start is a nonpartisan organization that teaches women the tools to run for office and Nancy sits on their board. I applied was accepted to the fellowship! This brought me back to Washington, DC and one step closer to my goal to run for office.

Nancy spoke to Running Start’s Fall 2017 Star Fellows, including Ariann!

Women empowering other women is extremely important. Every day, women face unfair critique, so we don’t need to tear each other apart. It is incredibly inspirational seeing women help one another. And having an influential mentor can really change the path of a woman interested in politics. I am a perfect example of this in action because I was extremely lucky in finding Nancy and Running Start. The organization emphasizes this idea of women empowering other women throughout its programs. As a Star Fellow, not only do I receive housing, a stipend, and weekly seminars on political skills, but I intern for a woman in Congress. Most importantly, Running Start and mentors like Nancy give us a chance to succeed in the world of politics. As a young woman from a town in Ohio with less than 1,500 people, I’m living the dream I never thought I could. I’m interning on Capitol Hill and learning how to run for office. And you won’t be surprised to know: Nancy is still my champion and we talk all the time.


Ariann Barile is originally from Roaming Shores in Ashtabula County, Ohio. She is an alum to Marietta College, where she was a collegiate athlete, President of Model UN, and a Sigma Kappa. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and from the McDonough School of Business and Leadership, a minor in leadership studies.