Hunter Whittington, a sophomore honors student at East Carolina University, is a student leader, exhaustive in his efforts to raise awareness for and increase the level of civic engagement on our campus. Since starting his journey here at ECU, he has been involved with numerous political undertakings including, organizing a group of students to increase voter registration efforts on campus, lobbying for continued access to campus polling locations, and working with our SGA to give a voice to the students of our university and champion the causes he is passionate about. Currently, he is working to create a coalition of college students and local residents to foster a spirit of civic engagement in our community and raise awareness for local issues by giving constituents the tools to fight for the issues they care about.
I became interested in democratic engagement during the midst of the 2016 election. At the time, I was just a 17-year-old high school student, but even then I had a passion for politics. I was inspired by the activists, the rhetoric, and the stakes of the election, and although I was too young to cast a ballot, I was determined to make my voice heard. I began working with a voter outreach project in my community and soon realized not everyone in my generation shared my enthusiasm for voting. Many were apathetic or disillusioned with the democratic process, and I soon became determined to understand why. Since then, I have conducted research on millennial voter turnout, organized voter registration drives, fought to keep polling centers on campus opened, and advocated for student voter rights. I have begun to see the young people of my community reengage in the democratic process and I hope to continue my efforts in the future by creating a town forum that would bring together my city with the students of my university to discuss issues important to our town and cultivate a spirit of civic engagement throughout Eastern North Carolina.