Learned on the Campaign Trail
For Katie Genoversa-Wong ‘14, Election Night, on Tuesday, Nov. 6, was an emotional
with U.S. Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
As a Praxis intern working for
the Elizabeth Warren senatorial campaign last summer, Genoversa-Wong
watched the Massachusetts senate race particularly closely.
“I was nervous that she was going to lose, excited at the prospect of her winning,
happy that all my work had paid off, and sad that it was all over,” said Genoversa-Wong
Some time around midnight, as
the ballot returns indicated a strong win for Warren over
incumbent U.S. Senator Scott Brown, Genoversa-Wong relaxed. “Seeing her win and knowing that I was a part—albeit an extremely small
part—of it was one of the most satisfying things in the world to me.”
Also watching election returns
closely that night was Meg Richardson ’14, who
worked as an intern with the Angus King senatorial campaign in Maine.
“Sitting on the Scales House couch with my best friend next to me, watching Angus
King’s name flash onto the screen on national news was a moment I will never
forget,” said Richardson, who is from Kents Hills, Maine. “All the butterflies
in my stomach flew into a calm formation and I felt an enormous weight lifted
off my shoulders.”
For Genoversa-Wong and Richardson,
both government majors, the experiences gained as part of
national political campaign staffs will likely be useful
long into their careers.
Genoversa-Wong spent most her
days during the internship entering data, calling potential
supporters, and knocking on doors to rally support for the
candidate. After gaining some experience, she organized a
house party for Warren supporters, as well as canvassing
outings. “The Warren campaign really
stressed the importance of grassroots organizing, and it was really important
for me to be a part of that,” she said.
After returning to Smith in
September, Genoversa-Wong continued working with the Warren
campaign, serving as the campus organizer for Warren’s candidacy, leading voter registration efforts, recruiting
volunteers and leading get-out-the-vote drives.
Meg Richardson '14 with U.S. Senator-elect Angus King
Richardson contributed to her
candidate’s policies, conducted opposition research and polling calls, and wrote
memos and press releases. “I learned how campaigns are run, how to network and
how to listen to the needs of your state,” she said.
Genoversa-Wong sought a
job working on a campaign last year after exploring elections
and campaigns in several of her classes—that, and watching too many episodes of The
she admits. A native of Massachusetts, Genoversa-Wong became interested in the
Warren campaign after seeing an interview with the candidate on TV’s The
Daily Show with host Jon Stewart. “She was smart, passionate and eloquent, and I was
sold,” says Genoversa-Wong. “I needed to be involved in some way.”
Richardson echoes Genoversa-Wong’s call of duty. “As I read what Angus King was
saying and his message about independence and hoping to help unblock the gridlock
in Congress, I realized this was a different candidate,” she said. “I knew there
was no choice. I had to be involved.”
For Smith students, working
on campaigns can provide
invaluable real-world experience, says Stacie Hagenbaugh,
director of the Career Development Office.
“Internships with political campaigns are an ideal match for our students,” she
said. “Campaign jobs offer a behind-the-scenes view of the political process
in action while giving interns practical experience performing a variety of tasks.
These campaign teams always appreciate our interns.”
Now that both their candidates
have officially become U.S. senator-elects, Genoversa-Wong
and Richardson anticipate positive change in Congress.
“Her win was huge for Massachusetts,” says Genoversa-Wong of Warren. “As the
first female senator from the state, her win means a lot for women.”
“King’s win means that Maine and the United States will have a fresh, new perspective
in the U.S. Senate,” said Richardson.
In addition to the practical
lessons learned on the campaign trail, both students emphasize
the more profound insights gained through their internships.
“Most important were the deeper lessons I learned,” said Richardson, “that no
matter what, when there is an injustice you must stand on your principles and
try to make a difference.”
For Genoversa-Wong, an equally
valuable takeaway: “I think the most important
thing I’ve learned is how to deal with the criticism from people who disagree