Fiona Buchanan, a second year Western Carolina University student, is a dedicated student leader. Fiona exemplifies an approach to civic engagement that is intentional and effective. She pursues civic engagement in an intentional manner that streamlines efforts. Her approach is rooted in addressing issues of equity and inclusivity. As the Chair of the Student Democracy Coalition and the Lead Andrew Goodman Foundation Fellow, Fiona has stepped up as a leader in many ways. Her primary focus in 2017 was centered on citizen education. Perhaps most impressive has been Fiona's leadership in organizing the push for NC to adopt an online voter registration system. This campaign included the development of a well-researched petition, the collection of over 1,000 signatures from WCU members, and the invitation to other NC university campuses to join the online voter registration movement and engage their student bodies in this call. The goal of the campaign is to get 10 partner campuses to sign-on the petition by getting at least 10% of their student bodies to support the petition. In spring 2018, students will deliver the signed petitions to respective legislators and to the NC Board of Elections personally. From these examples clearly Fiona works to advance democracy.
My interest in civic engagement stemmed from my experience in high school with the 2014 general election. I was very intrigued by the presidential election, but also volunteered on a campaign with a candidate for the NC General Assembly. Through my work on this campaign, I realized the impact that individuals like myself could truly have on our democracy. When I began attending Western Carolina University, I almost immediately assumed a leadership role in our campus' chapter of College Democrats. Through my involvement with this organization, I met wonderful students who were executing nonpartisan work on our campus. I left partisan work and became involved with the Student Democracy Coalition, and eventually assumed the organization's team leader position. Through my work with SDC, I have a fellowship with the Andrew Goodman Foundation and have also worked with other state and national level nonpartisan nonprofits. In these positions, I have worked to increase voter engagement, education, and advocacy within WCU's student body. I am also leading a coalition to institute an online voter registration system in North Carolina, a legislation initiative that, if approved, will eventually lead to increase registered voters and voter turnout in our state.