Sophie Bertrand, a sophomore at Towson University, is a student leader taking action addressing the issues of Civic engagement and Democratic participation. In the past two years, she has utilized campus resources to educate the student body about the significance of their roles in the community, especially in the democratic system. She has actively registered students to vote, hoping to increase overall political engagement on campus and playing a significant role in making Towson University recognized by TurboVote and the ALL IN campus democracy challenge as a "Silver Seal Campus" with a voting rate of 60.7% - one of TurboVote's top 40 campuses for voter engagement in 2017. In addition to her efforts with the campus student government on an initiative to make voting easier and more convenient for students, she is currently working in concordance with several local universities to host a conference pertaining to the state of democratic participation and civic engagement in the hopes of directly engaging with students and officials to discover what needs to be done and follow through to increase voter turnout - especially pertaining to the rapidly growing population of youth voters.
I first became involved in addressing issues of civic engagement and democratic participation by registering students to vote during my freshman year of college. As a child, I grew up watching the news with my parents, but never fully realized the role of individuals in government and the everyday ramifications of politics until I began understanding issues central to the 2016 presidential election. Although I wasn't old enough to vote, I knew that I needed to get involved somehow, and took action registering other students to vote. It was then that I discovered the lackluster attitude of many of my peers pertaining to their role in politics, and the negative ideologies they subscribed to surrounding the democratic system. On campus, I work for the office of Civic engagement planning and attending events to encourage students to become informed about politics. I also volunteer for the Andrew Goodman Foundation to make it easier for students to vote through campus initiatives, tabling, and registration events. I intend to continue my work with Civic engagement and political involvement throughout and beyond college, as I believe that individuals should shape the world they live in, rather than letting it simply exist around them.