Ryan Perez, a junior at Macalester College, has been a tireless advocate and leader for community involvement, voter education, and advocacy work around campus and in the local community. Over the past two years, Ryan has been a leader in "Get Out the Vote" efforts on campus and in the community. This work includes organizing a gubernatorial forum on campus, spearheading a campaign to register eligible voters, planning a voting rally right before the election, and planning and facilitating an election trivia contest. Ryan has also worked on campaigns and in the offices of several elected officials and candidates for office. Finally, Ryan has been involved in several efforts to impact public policy issues that he is passionate about. One noteworthy aspect of this work is that Ryan has recruited and mentored fellow students to develop their skills in the process. Ryan has been tireless in moving voter education and public policy work forward and mentoring others at the same time. He believes deeply in the importance of everyday people getting involved and working to impact the issues that they care about. He also believes in the capacity of politics to improve the quality of people's lives.
I am a nerd about politics, and I have been since the sixth grade. What I love most about politics is the power that people and communities can have when they organize. That is why I was so motivated when my college experience, a privilege my parents never had, provided me with the tools to be involved to the benefit of my own community. After representing Macalester at a national conference hosted by an organization called Project Pericles, I decided to take my newly acquired civic engagement and advocacy training back to campus. Together with several peers, the Macalester College Civic Engagement Center, and a team of passionate volunteers, I hosted events and launched actions to turn college students, disenchanted with our politics, into enthusiastic voters. We created energy around the 2018 elections and helped change the culture of Mac into one that is more deeply invested in our democracy. Today I am a student advisory board member for the Campus Vote Project as well as the Tools & Technology Lead for Students Demand Action Minnesota. My new mission is to turn voters into advocates, taking active steps to improve our democracy through continuous engagement.