Connections — The Power of Mentoring Young Women

At Running Start, our trainings provide each young woman with the 3 C’s that prepare her to lead in politics: confidence, capabilities, and connections. That last C — connections — is why we have created the Running Start Network. More on that later, but first: here’s what mentorship through Running Start has meant for some of our amazing alums.

Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah, Misaki Collins, and Tarina Ahuja have collectively participated in the following Running Start programs: Elect Her, High School Program, Congressional Fellowship, and Run with Running Start.

How has mentoring contributed to your success so far?

Ewurama Appiagyei-Dankah: “The mentorship of others has been crucial to me in my very nascent career. One of the most important mentoring relationships I have has helped me get an internship and my current job, and the relationships I have with peer mentors have helped me make many critical decisions in the confusing time period that is early adulthood.”

Misaki Collins: “I owe practically every single one of my successes to mentors that believed in me.”

Do you have any advice to other alums who might use the Running Start Network for mentoring purposes?

Ewurama: “Some of the best advice I’ve ever read about mentoring comes from Stacey Abrams, who said ‘What I learned early on is if someone said I want to help you, believe them. But I understood what they meant is help me help you.’ Running Start has ties to an array of amazing, accomplished people, and these people are participating in the Network because they are invested in cultivating young talent — so don’t be afraid to reach out to them, and help them help you!”

Misaki: “I would HIGHLY recommend for all alum to utilize the Running Start Network regardless of how they were previously involved in Running Start. Whether it was years ago that one week in high school or the Congressional Fellowship that got you involved, there is an entire network for women who are eager to empower you.”

Tarina Ahuja: “Mentoring has the capacity to inspire and instigate change in a young person. My mentors have opened doors for me and guided me in cultivating my passions. The Running Start Network is an incredible opportunity to meet and connect with phenomenal women. It has allowed me a portal into a world of movers, shakers, and changemakers that I aspire to be like.”

“Don’t be afraid to connect with and seek mentorship from people who may seem vastly different than you. Hearing from people with different lived experiences than you can be extremely valuable.”

Running Start mentors and mentees at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in September 2019.

Any other words of advice?

Ewurama: “Embrace the fact that there are many kinds of mentors you will form relationships with who each serve a specific and unique purpose. Some mentors will know you very intimately and offer you advice based on their closeness with you, and others are more high-level mentors who you connect with about a specific topic or for a specific ask. Both relationships are equally important in different ways and seek out mentors of each kind. Also, don’t be afraid to connect with and seek mentorship from people who may seem vastly different than you. Hearing from people with different lived experiences than you can be extremely valuable.”

Misaki: “I’ve been amazed by the network’s support for one another and how it truly transcends party lines, geographical distance, age, etc.”

 

Curious about the Running Start Network?

It’s a private Network of Running Start alums, mentors, and other friends intended to facilitate the kinds of relationships that help young women succeed in politics and beyond.

The Network makes it easy to create formal and informal mentoring relationships between younger peers and also between high-level advisors and younger Running Start alums. Simply search for users by name, location, area of interest, or another factor you find compelling — then send them a message to start the conversation. The Network is also where Running Start posts various resources and events, and where you can post jobs and other opportunities.

For those wondering if you have space in your life to start mentoring someone else, consider that investing in others’ development can lead to lower levels of stress for both mentors and mentees. The Network allows you to set your preferences so that others know what types of interactions you are open to, whether they be in-person meetups, phone calls, video chats, etc. Busy working professionals can take advantage of the Network by setting limits on the number of interactions you are able to have each month.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant has said that the difference between a good mentor and a great mentor is that “A good mentor is someone who’s willing to meet with you and give you advice, but a great mentor is someone who recognizes that there’s no one person that could give you all the advice that you would need. So a great mentor is someone who would actually introduce you to other mentors and help you expand your network of advisors.” If you know others who would like to mentor young women on Running Start’s Network, send them a referral link!

“A great mentor is someone who would actually introduce you to other mentors and help you expand your network of advisors.”

If you are ready to support young women in their path to leadership in politics, join us on the Network!

See Gov. Ann Richards Brought to Life by Jayne Atkinson & Support Running Start

Friends,

As you may know, I worked for Governor Ann Richards early in my career. She was such an important role model and mentor to me. Our friend, award-winning actress Jayne Atkinson is starring a limited engagement production of the play Ann, about Ann Richards this summer. I would love to have you join Running Start for a special showing of Ann, including an optional VIP dessert reception after the show with Jayne Atkinson! I hope to see you there!

*See Tickets Tab*

Best,
Susannah Wellford
CEO & Founder, Running Start

P.S. The credit card holder must pick up the tickets on the evening of the show. If you may not be able to pick up tickets purchased for someone else, please send their names to reniya@runningstart.org.

P.P.S. If you can’t make it to the play, please still consider supporting Running Start at: runningstart.org/donate.

ANN
Thursday, July 25th
8 pm, Arena Stage

Tickets
$125 for premium ticket & VIP dessert reception
$80 for premium ticket only
$64 for regular ticket only
$35 alum-only ticket & VIP dessert reception

130 Reasons to be Thankful for the 116th Congress

By Sammie Espada

As 2018 comes to a close, it is time to reflect on the impact this year had on all of our lives. This year challenged women to see themselves in new leadership roles. More women than ever ran for political office — and they won. The 116th Congress will set a new record for the number of women representing our country with 130 women (126 voting members, 4 nonvoting). These women defy the mold of what a traditional political leader is supposed to look like: they are young and they are ethnically, religiously, and politically diverse. I am thankful for all of these women for providing new role models for young girls and women to run for office.

As I spent time with loved ones over the holiday week, I noted all of the young women in my life. My younger cousins and my niece (ranging from 5 to 21 years old) were all eager to hear about my experience in Washington, DC as a Running Start Congressional Fellow. They were all looking up to me to guide their future steps. In the three months I have been gone, so much about their lives has changed as they embark on new adventures and discover more of their capabilities. Still, they dream of being chefs, artists, and lawyers — none of them dream of being a political leader.

My 8 year old cousin, Angel, spent Thanksgiving leading the charge with all the young girls following her. She cunningly convinced all of us to play Jenga, then Twister, and even a unicorn toss. I watched her talk to the other girls in our family and every conversation left with Angel getting what she asked. Her presence is commanding, her spirit infectious — she’s a natural born leader. But we have never talked about her running for office, even though she can be a chef, a sister, a daughter, a mother, and a politician. In fact,she can do anything she wants — if she knows it’s possible. Young women, however, experience a gender gap in political ambition from a young age. We are not encouraged to run for office by our families or by the media. Women are less likely than men to have considered running for office or to express interest in a candidacy at some point in the future. Women do not see themselves in office because it is not a norm for women to be political leaders.

As a young Latina, I also strongly feel the lack of enough women of color in political office to help guide us. But 2018 changed that. Ayanna Pressley, in her victory speech, noted that women of color candidates hit a concrete ceiling. Breaking it means, she said:

“Seismic shifts, drastic change. When those tectonic plates of revolution shift below our feet…Stronger than any one person or any one institution, it builds up from the ground beneath our feet. This groundswell, this shift can break through concrete.”

My young cousins and my niece will see women that look like them in all forms of leadership in 2019. They will see women in their state legislature, governorships, and the US Congress. Most powerfully for my family and me, they will see women of color leading the charge and making their voices heard. Because of the women of the 116th Congress I can see myself running for office more than ever before. I see women with similar values and backgrounds who are willing to challenge the norms and fight for their communities. I see women changing the face of politics, changing its priorities, and re-engaging communities who have long been underrepresented in politics. I am thankful these women have etched a path for me and women like me to lead.

Most importantly, I am thankful that these women are just the beginning. They will grow as politicians in front of us and they will change the future of politics. The young women of our country are looking at these women to continue to break barriers for us all. They make a woman President seem that much closer and they make it seem more plausible that we will reach gender parity in politics. (Although to get there, we need more women of all political ideologies to run — especially when we’ll see women’s representation among Republicans in Congress decrease next year.)

My time with Running Start has also made me hopeful about getting more women to the table. As a Congressional Fellow, I am surrounded by women of different political, ethnic, and religious backgrounds who are all eager to run for office one day. I am certain these women are the future of politics. Women who are ready to learn, compromise, and put in work to better their communities and our country. The 116th Congress created a critical seismic shift. Now it’s time for the next generation of women leaders to step through those cracks and make our own mark.

Sammie Espada is a current Running Start Congressional Fellow interning in the US Senate. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 with a degree in Women and Gender Studies and Political Science with a minor in Latinx Studies. She is a native New Yorker passionate about her Latinx heritage and empowering young girls and women of color to reach their full potential.

Insecure

Last week, my husband Marcelo and I watched the first episode of HBO’s Insecure, which IMDB describes as “follow[ing] the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman,” Issa Dee. About five minutes in, Marcelo paused the show and said, “I like this, but the title doesn’t make sense. Issa’s so beautiful, how could she be insecure?” Marcelo and I talk about gender inequality on a daily basis, so I knew the question was really a comment meant to start a conversation — one that has continued internally for me all week long.

So, let me tell you about my battle.

I was lucky enough to MC a recent summit for young women on resilience hosted by Running Start. Our original working title for the event was FAILURE because women are too socialized to fear failure (which can hold them back from taking risks like running for office). The Resilience Summit (its final name) was a positive day filled with strong women talking authentically and publicly about bouncing back. I was completely in my women’s empowerment element when a man approached me during the coffee/cookie break to ask why I had chosen my outfit for the day. I told him truthfully that it was first clean thing I saw that I knew fit on a morning when I was rushing to get to work. What I didn’t mention was that a couple weeks earlier I ripped three different pairs of pants in a single week at work. Perhaps they were old, but I had probably also gained weight, so I was trying to avoid wearing pants at public events.

Like many women, I’m accustomed to men making comments (negative or seemingly positive) about my appearance. Whether it’s the cashier at a local 7–11 telling me how much he liked my body (I stopped going to that one) or a man I sometimes ride the elevator with at work who’s said he doesn’t like my outfits or that he thinks my shoes are inappropriate. I’ve learned to insincerely laugh, awkwardly smile, turn away or redirect these types of inquiries or suggestions.

Tweet from Christina Ayiotis, with photo of Melissa Richmond starting the event.

But during that particular snack break, my usual defenses didn’t work. The man kept pressing. Did I choose the dress because it was pink? Did I think it made me look hot? Did I think I was better than the other females in the room? Wasn’t it inappropriate? The dress was pink because I got it for my sister’s wedding reception and it matched what my mother was wearing. I didn’t think it made me look hot. In fact, moments before this encounter, I had been hesitant to retweet a quote because it included a photo that I thought made me look fat (an unforgivable taboo for women appearing in public.) And, the other women in the room (who he referred to as “females”) were my colleagues and friends — my professional network and support system. So, no, I didn’t think I was better than them. But, after all of that questioning, I started thinking that maybe the dress was actually inappropriate.

I finally stopped his questions by saying, “I’m the MC. It’s my event. I can wear whatever I want.” And even though I consider myself a confident woman, I walked back to the stage feeling insecure. It was harder to stand up and introduce speakers when I knew for certain that the negative internal dialogue I was already having about the dress was being reinforced by a man in the back of the room. A man who had paradoxically also just accused me of choosing it because I thought it made me look hot and therefore better than other women, which made it inappropriate.

Although I was distracted by this conversation and by my increasing concern about my appearance, I was also pleased with the day because the Resilience Summit was a tremendous success! The people who spoke (Congresswomen and a Congressman, a Canadian MP, plus business leaders and celebrities) were vulnerable and inspiring in talking about their failures. It was hard not to get wrapped up in their amazing energy. But as we debriefed at the end of the day I had a sinking feeling and even felt compelled to apologize to my team for dressing “inappropriately.” I was worried that I had failed and embarrassed them.

The response of my Running Start colleagues was unanimously supportive and loving. They didn’t think my dress was inappropriate and were anxious to see if we could figure out who the man was. Interestingly, as far as we could tell, he didn’t RSVP or check in. He just showed up. And not only did he attack my dress and professionalism, he had also taken the time to make a strange criticism of the event. He thought businesswomen on a panel who were asked about #MeToo should have been compelled to disclose a specific personal experience because he was so sure they had one, rather than offering their thoughts on the movement. And with me, he won the battle. In that moment, he made me feel insecure about my body and my choice of what to wear.

But I won the war. Because I was the MC. Because the Resilience Summit was a home run. Because I have the platform to write about the experience for POLITICO’s #WomenRule. And because I am going to tweet this article out as a comment on the photo in which I thought I looked fat and then email it to every attendee of the Resilience Summit with pride, hoping he somehow made it onto our email list.

P.S. To Issa Rae (the creator and star of Insecure) and Marcelo, it took me a week to crystallize my thoughts: I hope the show is called Insecure because Issa is fighting feelings of insecurity thrust on her by the world, not because she is insecure. And I hope I can say the same about myself.

Melissa Richmond is the Vice President of Running Start, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that trains young women to run for political office. Melissa worked for Gov. Mitt Romney for 10 years and is a graduate of Brigham Young University, George Washington University Law School, and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.

From Arkansas to Capitol Hill

Lydia Fletcher

As I began writing this, I was flying back from one of the most impactful experiences of my life. Last week I attended Running Start’s Young Women’s Political Leadership (YWPL) Program in Washington, DC along with 70 other amazing young women from across the country.

Before I continue, I’ve got to tell you a little about myself: My name is Lydia Fletcher, I’m an eighteen-year-old high school graduate from Arkansas. Yes, Arkansas, a state that has never had a female governor and where only 18.5% of the legislature consists of women. For a girl like me, who plans to run for public office one day, this is incredibly discouraging.

Not only is female representation lacking in my state, but women only make up 20% of Congress.How can women make up 51% of the U.S. population but only hold 20% of Congress?

Change is coming, though. The 2018 election has the most women running for public office. We need to be supporting these women in whatever way we can. Because as YWPL taught me, “when women run, they win!”

However, women are often hesitant to run. Every day we see the media focusing on female candidates’ outward appearance instead of their issues and policies. Even presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was attacked by many sexist articles, like: “The Pros and Cons of President Grandma” and “Could Hillary’s Smile Cost Her the Election?”.

These articles, and the way media portrays women, send the message that women are only as good as they look. It tells women that their self-worth is tied to looking “young and beautiful” at all times. This can lead us, the next generation, to believe that they must fulfill an unrealistic expectation.

“7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with family and friends.”
Real Girls, Real Pressure: National Report on the State of Self-Esteem

We must dismantle the idea that girls must live up to “something.” It is our job to teach young women that they are enough, that they are somebody, and that they can do anything with hard-work and dedication. Claire Shipman, journalist, public speaker, and author of The Confidence Code, came to speak with us at YWPL. She encouraged us to “own our successes.” She said that once we did this, we would realize our full potential and understand how truly capable we are. One of her statements that stuck out to me was “Confidence is what turns thought into action.” She encouraged us to let go of our perfectionistic view of ourselves and understand that failures happen.

“The process that builds confidence is through failure and struggles.”
– Claire Shipman

It is time for us to build up our own confidence, and teach our fellow women to do so as well.

YWPL participants at graduation.

My experience at YWPL increased my confidence ten-fold. It helped me find a community in which I know I belong. Here are some reflections from fellow participants.

Oriana Riley, a fifteen-year-old sophomore from Pennsylvania, became a close friend during the six days. I asked her about what Running Start meant to her:

“I knew that Running Start would be a good opportunity for me, but I never knew it would change my life… I now understand what it takes to run for office and how much I want to.”

Through this program we were able to meet our own Representatives in Congress (or one of their staffers) to discuss our concerns and ask questions about running for public office. Spending the day on Capitol Hill was such an eye-opening experience.

I know that I am very lucky to have been chosen to attend this amazing program. Being surrounded and supported by a community of 70 diverse, accomplished teens from across the US, as well as all of the interns, staff, and speakers, gave me the opportunity to learn about issues I didn’t know existed, and it let me see girls fighting for change in areas I didn’t know needed changing.

On our second day, the participants got to lead conversation breakouts on topics of which we considered ourselves experts. My friend Franzi Wild and I were chosen to lead a breakout session on Diet Culture and Social Media Expectations. This was an amazing experience. We allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and share our stories relating to this topic and we listened to the other girls in our program talk about their experiences. That’s what community is. That’s what encouragement is. The fact that Franzi and I ended up providing a space for these incredible women to let down their guard and be vulnerable was one of the most gratifying experiences I had at YWPL.

After I led my session, I attended a session lead by New Jersey native and high school senior, Perri Easley. She talked about the intersectionality of mental health and how mental health is seen differently in her African American community. Her breakout session was incredibly enlightening to me, as I wasn’t aware of the differences that people of color face when seeking mental health care.

Over the week, I met so many women I will never forget. I saw girls stand up for their beliefs, find their passion and be vulnerable. Carolyn Adams, a high school junior, from North Carolina, was thinking about singing a song she wrote during our talent show. She was incredibly nervous — so much that someone else had to hold the mic because her hands were shaking — but we encouraged her the whole way. I’m glad she decided to share her song because that girl can SING! Our vulnerability grew our community.

YWPL participants (including Lydia) ran into alums of Running Start’s Congressional Fellowship.

“YWPL was the most amazing experience, because not only did I learn so many new things, but I met the most supportive women. It was a great community of which to be a part.”
– Maggie Davis, 16, Texas

Maggie is not alone in this feeling. YWPL was a life-changer for me. It proved to me that although I come from a small town in Arkansas, if I surround myself in a community of support and encouragement, I will make it in politics. Running Start was the perfect messenger for this. Now that we have received this message so clearly from Running Start, I and my fellow 70 sisters have a duty to spread this message to our family, friends, and community.

Let’s be CEOs, Founders, Policymakers, Congresswomen, Lobbyists, COOs, News Anchors, Ambassadors, or whatever we dare to be. It is time for us to make our voices heard.

I encourage you all to find your community, speak your mind, and at the end of the day, be a face of encouragement, confidence, and strength. Be the type of person you want the next generation to look up to.

Lydia Fletcher is a recent high school graduate from Jonesboro, Arkansas. She will attend Belmont University in Nashville this fall and will major in Political Science and Journalism. Lydia was active in debate/forensics in high school and plans to continue to compete at the collegiate level. She was editor in chief of her school newspaper and served as chair of the Women’s Caucus for Young Democrats of Arkansas. Lydia is passionate about social justice and promoting a fair and equitable world. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing, and hanging out with her friends.

Fighting for Students’ Voices — and My Own

Women don’t run for office nearly as often as men do. But at the University of West Florida this year, two women and one man ran for Student Government Association President — I was one of them. And as a result of a strange decision by the election commission, I found myself embroiled in an unexpected election rules challenge. While first running a normal campaign and then advocating for the votes of my fellow students to count in a real runoff election, I learned a lot about why I shouldn’t have doubted my qualifications and why more women should be confident and take the risk of seeking elected office.

I’m an involved student on campus. I started a student organization and ran it for two years while also participating in student government and spearheading other initiatives at my university. I knew I loved my school and had more I could contribute on a higher level in student government. Yet, it took a lot of convincing for me to run. One of my closest friends (and current roommate) had decided to run for president months prior. For a long time I denied that I wanted to run, too, because of it. But as the date for filing got closer, I started to reflect on my own goals and passions. I met with confidants, secretly hoping they would talk me out of it.

But I couldn’t get rid of that nagging feeling inside telling me that if I never ran then I would never know.

A week before filing, I confronted my friend about my possible run. The conversation turned cold when I let her know I was going to run against her for SGA president. She felt I had betrayed her trust, and I struggled to adapt to the change in our relationship from inseparable to hardly together. Then a third candidate entered the race, one of my guy friends who had served in student government. For the past two years, the political climate at our school had been uneventful — the past two presidents ran unopposed. This was not a normal year.

For a month and a half, I ran the best campaign possible. My competence was never questioned and all the students I met with treated me with the utmost respect and kindness. I learned that I enjoyed the campaign process and felt confident going into the election.

The night the election results came in, everyone expected a runoff. With three candidates, all with competitive campaigns, it was unlikely there would be a majority for anyone. The question was who would be in that runoff. The results were announced: I was in third place and neither of my friends won a majority. At that moment, everything seemed clear. They would simply run against each other the following Tuesday.

The next morning, my roommate said she needed to talk with me. I thought she would be asking for my endorsement for the runoff. I was wrong.

She was dropping out of the runoff and terminating her campaign.

I was shocked. After all this time, hard work, and energy, she realized she needed to refocus her life on getting into med-school, not serving as student government president. I admired her for coming to terms with her life and what she needed to do.

After reeling from the news, I stepped back and realized this meant I would now qualify for the runoff. After all, our President and Vice President must be elected by a majority of votes from the student body, according to our statutes.

But it wasn’t going to be as easy for me to get on the runoff ballot as I initially expected.

The SGA elections commission made a decision to hold a runoff with the male candidate as the only ticket and then have students vote to abstain as the only other option. It was a solution created to — I believe improperly — fulfill a statutory requirement and it would guarantee that ticket a majority, while keeping me off the ballot entirely.

Above all, I was disappointed that after such a strong, competitive campaign cycle that it would end with an uncontested “runoff”. The idea of voting to abstain is in itself an oxymoron. And after all, a runoff is always between two candidates and brings two options for voters to choose from. Our SGA has always prided itself on hearing the voice of students. Their voice would be considered insignificant in this situation.

So, I worked with a fellow student to draft and send an appeal to our SGA Supreme Court just hours after the decision was released.

On Monday afternoon I received word that we would be heard by the court in a hearing Wednesday. The “runoff” was set for that Tuesday, so I assumed it had been postponed. But it wasn’t. It would be held as planned and the results of the election would be valid, pending the hearing. I wondered how the court could decide this based on our statutes and why they would go through with it if they didn’t yet know what the hearing outcome would be. After sending a few messages pointing out the flaw in this plan, less than 12 hours before the “runoff” was scheduled to occur, the elections commission sent out an email postponing it.

I spent hours the following day prepping, researching, and building up an argument to present my best case to the court.

Our elections statutes are vague, unclear, and leave much to the imagination. In legal terms, judges always rule in favor of liberty when a statute or law is so unclear that no decision can be based off the terms there. It seemed like a clear-cut case: If you have the ability to have two candidates in the runoff and nothing is legally stopping you, the question must be asked, why would you rule in favor of an undemocratic procedure?

As I went through the entire appeals process, I was hyper aware of what people thought of me and my intentions. I risked looking like a sore loser or even the dreaded “B word.” People thought I was trying to sabotage the current candidates and that I simply couldn’t accept the loss I had received during the first round of the election. But I appealed because I believed the system had failed students. I was simply asking to compete and give students a choice.

Wednesday at 5 p.m. I stood and made my case in front of a crowded room of students. My voice wavering at first and then growing stronger and more powerful as I found my solid ground, I laid it all out before the four students serving on our court. The court adjourned for ten minutes and returned with their decision.

I would not be allowed on the runoff ballot.

The next day, the postponed “runoff” was held and the only ticket allowed on the ballot won. It felt wrong. Not because I didn’t make it but because the runoff where students were supposed to have a choice ended with an uncontested election.

And when I reflected on the winner, I realized that he ran despite not having a lot of experience. Yet, he felt qualified to run. Which is ok: if you have a calling for public office, then you should go for it. But I would never have run for this position if I had that little experience. And that’s when I realized why so few women run for political office. As women, we have to be five times more qualified than any man to feel as if we even have the right to run. Even then, sometimes we don’t, even at the level of student government. I had hoped that we would have a woman SGA president after ten years of having only men serve in the role. Two extremely qualified women ran against a man with less experience and neither woman won. Student Government Associations are places where many women who go on to become politicians get that critical experience and training. Those within student government should be willing to provide critical competition and democratic procedures whenever possible.

When I ask myself whether I regret running, I always answer with a firm no. It was so often grueling, intolerable, and frustrating to the point of wanting to throw all my leftover campaign buttons outside my apartment window. Yet I learned in two months what it’s like to run for office, how to navigate lost relationships, and how to strengthen new ones. I learned what it feels like to fight hard for something you care about, and to still believe in it even when your efforts go unreciprocated.

So run. Run even if you don’t think you’re good enough. Run because you know you’d love it and that you’d do a good job. Even though it will be one of the hardest things you ever do, you’ll become a strong and incredible force for change. And whether you win or lose, you will wake up one day and realize that the woman staring back at you in the mirror is someone you can truly be proud of.

Abigail Megginson studies Journalism and Political Science at the University of West Florida while also serving as the editor-in-chief of a student magazine she founded on campus. She has spent two summers interning on Capitol Hill for members of Congress. Abigail works as the social media fellow for College to Congress, a nonprofit devoted to providing congressional internships for Pell Grant eligible students. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in DC, in either political journalism or the nonprofit sector.