Antonio Esparza, a third year student at Southwestern University, is passionate about engaging his generation in political processes. He is actively involved in campus-wide efforts to promote voter education, registration, and participation at Southwestern. He believes that it is critically important for young people to be well informed and highly engaged in democratic processes. He worked as the Community-Engaged Learning Student Associate for SU’s American Politics course, served as a Democracy Fellow for the Campus Votes Project, and volunteered for local campaigns. He is currently working with the SU Votes committee, a campus-wide group that plans voting initiatives, to develop infrastructure that will promote increased student voter participation.
Since arriving at Southwestern in 2018, my interests in politics and community organizing have culminated in my participation as a Community Engaged Learning Student Assistant (CELSA), a fellow for the Campus Vote Project, and a member of SU Votes. Through these organizations, I have carried out non-partisan voter engagement activities including voter registration, education, and special events; other activities ranged from assisting first-time voters to organizing phone banks for politically active students. I’ve been a poll worker, attended regular meetings about overcoming barriers to voter participation, and collaborated with the organizations I participate in to set long-term campus engagement goals. In my efforts to engage young people in the political process, I’ve come to recognize the potential that young voters have in addressing societal issues. One of the primary barriers that I’ve encountered in my interactions with students is their disillusionment with the political process; there is a feeling that their voice does not make an impact on decisions. While this view is disappointing, I believe that it also presents an opportunity to inform and educate young people about the positive benefits of participating in politics.