Elisar El-Gaouny ’21

Candace Valenzuela Congressional Campaign, Carrollton, TX

This summer, I had the honor of working as a remote student fellow with the Candace Valenzuela Congressional Campaign—a grassroots campaign that has been working to get Valenzuela elected to the House of Representatives in District 24 in Texas. Since last year, the campaign has worked tirelessly, both on local and national levels; and after the runoff election for the Democratic primary in July, Candace Valenzuela successfully secured the Democratic nominee, beating her opponent Kim Olson.

One of my key roles as a congressional fellow was to interact with voters daily. For eight weeks, I would contact more than one hundred voters a day through the political software called VAN. During these daily conversations, I encountered a diverse group of voters. Although not all conversations remained positive, it felt extremely rewarding to increase accessibility to voter information and to recognize that I was playing an active role in increasing civic engagement.

One of the projects that I worked on during my fellowship was reaching out to young voters from high schools and colleges. This project focused on mobilizing voters and increasing voter registration among youth in the Dallas area. I also collaborated with political groups on these campuses to bring awareness to the election happening in District 24. I provided information on the candidates and how voters could access ballots and any information related to the election. I also created a training guide for students on high school voter registration. I thoroughly enjoyed this project as I felt as though I was able to help address the serious problem in youth voter registration and turnout.

Along with gaining beneficial research and conversational skills, I have also learned fundamental and practical office skills. Aside from phone banking, I learned how to research potential donors and organize contact information using software and Excel. I also learned how to spot potential donors through research and helped to develop scripts that were used to seek donations for the campaign.

Looking back on my time with the Candace Valenzuela Congressional Campaign, I am extremely proud to have worked on a trail blazing and fiery campaign that strives to promote POC and female representation in political office. This experience has not only allowed me to gain hard skills that I can implement in future careers, but also helped me to understand the importance of working and participating in various means of civic engagement. Although I do not have any immediate plans to pursue a politically-driven career following my senior year, I am sure that the skills that I developed during my time with the campaign will prove beneficial for both my academic and professional aspirations.

I would like to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration at Williams College along with the Estate of George Mead for allowing me to have this opportunity. I will forever be grateful for the privilege to have this experience.