Thomas Lichtenberg, a member of the Kalamazoo College class of 2023, is a student leader who has dedicated his college career to advocating for civil rights, centering his work on advocating for those with disabilities and the expansion of mental health resources. He has explored a variety of avenues, including interning on a Congressional campaign for a candidate with a strong track record for advocacy, working directly with voters to get them access to absentee ballots and rides to the polls, as well as spending an academic term working with the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. These experiences provided Thomas with perspectives on the workings of the democratic and legal process at the state and national level. At Kalamazoo College, Thomas has engaged fully in the rigorous curricular opportunities in political science and philosophy. He was particularly inspired by his course on Constitutional Law, and mentors his peers as a teaching assistant in the Philosophy department. As a double major in Political Science and Philosophy, as well as a Math minor, Thomas has focused his academic journey on understanding political and social systems, data analysis and advocacy.
Over the last few years, I have found an interest in enhancing protections for civil rights. In my freshman year of college, I became one of the first campaign interns for the Jon Hoadley for Congress campaign. I was inspired by how unapologetic he was when it came to addressing social inequality as effectively and decisively as he could. In my sophomore year, I took a course on Constitutional Law where I had the opportunity to write case briefs where I suggested other legal methods and corresponding precedent that could be used to guarantee Fourteenth Amendment civil rights to a greater extent. Finally, in my Junior Year, I studied away at Washington DC, where I interned for the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. While interning, I attended meetings on voting rights advocacy, briefings on how policy would affect different groups, and helped explain the progress of lawsuits Bazelon filed to help sustain the progress of disability rights through policy like the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, even at the Supreme Court level. I look forward to continuing work both in the classroom and on the front lines to strive to solve systemic injustice in public policy.