I could not help but feel energized as I pushed my way through dozens of supporters, all committed to making their way to the front of the line. At the doorway of Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang’s brimming conference room, I slipped past the security guards fighting to hold back the growing crowd.
Inside, the energy was palpable. Almost everyone, excluding the reporters, was clad in Yang’s signature navy blue ‘math’ merchandise.
Yang’s rally was the first event I attended during the weekend of the Iowa Caucuses, and it did not disappoint, less because of the rally itself, but more because of who I met. Outside of the conference room where Yang held his rally, our Chronicle adviser Jim Burns and former Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Sammi Handler ’17 were kind enough to point out that MSNBC’s Katy Tur was interviewing supporters. My eyes widened as I excitedly replied, “Where?” I had no clue where to look, and it seemed almost impossible to quickly locate someone in the crowd. But, lucky for me, an older woman grabbed my arm and guided me a few feet away to a clearer vantage point. She extended her arm and pointed. I thanked her profusely and went in search of one of my all-time favorite reporters, Katy Tur.
I introduced myself to her and we talked about our school’s rivalries. She was a Brentwood alumna, and she told me her colleague, Jacob Soboroff, was a Harvard-Westlake alumnus. Tur brought up the rivalry we have between our two schools and I jokingly tossed back that there was not much of a rivalry.
Her advice to me was simple: never take no for an answer and never give up. This resonated to my core because it not only applies to journalism but to everyday life. We would be nowhere if not for the risks we take.
The next few days were a blur. I spoke to countless campaign staffers, most notably Lis Smith, SY Lee and TJ Ducklo. At a Joe Biden rally, I snapped a picture with the former Vice President and he told me to remember the meeting when I become the next President of the United States. The line was clearly a signature of his, but it nonetheless made me feel special. I never imagined that the former Vice President would ever speak to me.
On the day of the caucuses, I went to a taping of Tur’s show at Java Joes, a coffee shop. When she wrapped up her show, she came over and gave me a hug. Then she had the executive producer of the show give me a tour of the backstage area and show me the satellite trucks. Later that night, as Tur went around the gym where this particular caucus was being held, the crowd started to loudly chant her name.
Looking back, I do not think anything can match the adrenaline rush of that weekend. It was fun to meet extraordinarily talented journalists and campaign staffers, all while getting an eyeful of the nuances surrounding American democracy. In the midst of the political fervor, I realized how often we take for granted our ability to share our opinions and thoughts. Not everyone in the world is guaranteed that privilege. So, during the coming presidential election, I ask that everyone fully immerse themselves in politics. To not do so would be a slap in the face to everyone who fought for the opportunities we currently have.