Avik Herur-Raman, a second-year student at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, is a civic engagement leader on campus, in the community, and in student higher education networks. He is passionate about helping young people engage the political process and affect public policy. As a first-year student, he was chosen as one of Macalester's representatives to a national student conference sponsored by Project Pericles, a consortium of colleges committed to civic engagement. He is currently a student leader in the consortium's ' "Student Choices, Student Voices" initiative. As part of this initiative, Mr. Herur-Ramen is working with Macalester's Civic Engagement Center to support "Get Out the Vote" efforts, to increase knowledge of policy issues among students, and to amplify the voices of young people in the electoral process. In addition to his work on campus, he has interned with the Australian Human Rights Commission and with Chicago's BallotReady initiative to increase voter turnout in local, state, and national elections. He looks forward to continue developing his skills in organizing and policy engagement through the Newman Civic Engagement Fellowship.
In our country, democratic engagement revolves around voting. And yet as I approached my eighteenth birthday, I noticed little enthusiasm among my peers for the chance to fulfill their constitutional duties. Even as political debates swirled through the halls, putting those beliefs into practice seemed less important. For years, the awesome right to shape the future has been restricted for some, and squandered by others. While serving as a student election judge during the 2016 primary election, I hardly saw my generation show up at the polling station. I decided right then to fight for expanding the voting in any way I could. I started working for a startup, BallotReady, which provides free online voter guides, and specializes in the crucial local races that are often overlooked. On campus, I joined with the Civic Engagement Center to conduct student voter registration drives and encourage greater participation. Now, as a task-force member of Project Pericles' campus voter engagement initiative, I have the chance to collaborate with dozens of similar students across the country. We hope to spur youth political engagement and voter turnout for the 2018 midterm elections.