First Day Canvassing

First Day Canvasing
Me handing out some of my very first CTV (Commit to Vote) cards at the Greenville Farmers Market!

Today was my first day working for the Fellowship with Hillary for South Carolina. We hit the ground running and tackled the Greenville Farmers Market this morning, a place where you’ll likely be able to find us most saturdays. It was an exciting way to get my feet wet in real political grassroots action.

Late last night, when my mind was reeling with excitement, I started wondering what exactly it means to canvas and what I should be expecting. So I started surfing the web and seeing what I could find.

I found that canvassing can increase voter turnout.  Canvassing is a systematic way to gage how citizens intend to vote by having conversations about politics in hopes of engaging the broader electorate. Essentially its face-to-face interaction with other local citizens. These face-to-face interactions are much more effective campaign recruiting tools that any television advertisement a politician could put together. The first study of this was in 1998 Don Green and Alan Gerber and their findings have been consistently backed up for almost two decades. The reason for this is the personal element of the interactions. This is what has drawn me to politics and fueled my passion for studying it over the years; the interactions with other people and the way in which politics unites people through impassioned discourse and collective movement.

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Contrary to some definitions, canvassing, as I learned today, is not an act of persuasion. Our job was simply to ask as many people on the streets of Greenville whether they were planning to, or interested in supporting Hillary. We had main points to touch on like her plan for South Carolina, which includes  helping the middle class get ahead and stay ahead and fighting for specific groups of our society, like women who work the same hours for less pay. These main points I found were a great fallback, but the conversations that were most successful were when I put the script out of mind, and asked people how they were doing.

A genuine conversation. That was what I learned is the most effective tool in campaigning on my first day as a canvasser. Not only do I feel like I reached and connected with the voters more in depth, I personally felt my own political views solidifying and I enjoyed my time even more. Isn’t that the beauty of politics, isn’t that the importance of democracy? Having an educated and engaged electorate who can talk about democracy and choose the best candidate to represent us.

I left my first day feeling more connected to my community and fellow Americans than I have ever before. Not because we agreed, but because my confidence that people do care and want to get involved in discourse about our election and our country increased dramatically. In a time when many have a dismal view on our political participation, I challenge everyone to have a conversation with someone, and feel refreshed by the eagerness of our fellow Americans. For me, all it starts with is “Do you support Hillary Clinton?”


Digital Literacy: An Evaluation of the Journey

The past three months have been quite the transformation for me, I feel as though I learned an entirely new language in this short period of time! Three months ago I published my first blog post talking about how overwhelmed I was in this new digital realm. To be honest at the time I didn’t even completely grasp the concept of a “blog” nor did I know how to hyperlink, let alone edit a video or create a website. One could definitely say I was digitally illiterate, but now I would say I am very competent in a realm that originally intimidated me.

The most valuable thing I learned through this course was how to effectively market myself and all the different ways to do that. Self-branding was the main element behind every project and component of my multi media project. Here are the main components of my multimedia project, what I learned from them and how they will help me in the future.

Starting with my Blog!

Main Take-Aways:

  • Proficiency in digital writing
  • Proficiency using Photoshop
  • Proficiency on issues pertaining to women in politics and other relevant news issues
  • Proficiency in interviewing
  • Proficiency at Video Editing (iMovie and Premiere)

Favorite Posts:

Key to Midterm Elections

This post demonstrates all of the elements of digital literacy. Including a video that shows proficiency in interviewing, video editing and creativity. I enjoyed researching and writing on an issue that was relevant to what was occurring at the time.

Keystone Pipeline Sidelined

Blogging has become a great way to stay current on relevant news and issues pertaining to politics. This post was an extra post I did because it was relevant issue and combined areas of biology for my biology class and politics and it incorporated digital communications when I put it all together in a blog post.

Hillary Drops a Hint

In this post I created a collage which shows my ability to use Photoshop which is crucial for digital literacy. I also practiced writing in a way that is conducive for digital readers.


Main Take-Aways:

  • Self-Marketing
  • Layering
  • Proficiency at communicating through digital media

I think my website really gives someone a taste of who I am better than a piece of paper with my resume on it ever could. It shows my creativity, my organized nature but also that I am young and have a sense of humor too.

Home Page: I used the digital element of layering on this page through an effective menu to direct the interactor. Below on the page I have stories with pictures and excerpts that connect to my resume. I also establish a color pallet that helps with layering.

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Resume:  I digitalized my resume into an interactive timeline with slideshows below and sectioned off highlights like my GPA which I made stand out with the color purple.!resume/c8f4!resume/c8f4






Group Project: Collegiate Stress


Main Take-Aways:

  • Group Collaboration
  • Proficiency at Video Editing
  • Audacity: Could Improve

I took a main roll in editing our video, but another group member took the lead on editing our podcast. Because I didn’t get as much practice with this media I could stand to improve my audio editing skills.

Social Media:

Main Take-Aways:

  • New Medias: Flickr, Linked In, HootSuite
  • Awareness of Self-Marketing
  • Needs Improvement

I still need to work on is my social media. I still struggle to combine the purposes of both socializing with my peers and socializing with potential employers and how to balance both of those elements in what I post.




Shucker Leadership Institute


After posting several blog posts on national female leaders, I thought I would highlight the leadership here on my campus at Furman University.

I am apart of a wonderful organization called Shucker Leadership Institute. After going through an application process in the summer before college, I joined Shucker along with 24 other freshman.

My Shucker Fellows class!
My Shucker Fellows class!

Shucker is named after Furman’s previous Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Harry B. Shucker. This two-year program is intended to enhance the college experience through meaningful service and leadership development. Below is a picture of two of the members of our Lead Team; Bianca and Caitlin!

Bianca is the Student Director and Caitlin Vaka is the Assistant Director.
Bianca is the Student Director and Caitlin Vaka is the Assistant Director.
Bianca, Student Director, leading our session today on developing our Passion Projects!

Last year I met some of my best friends in Shucker through our weekly meetings, retreats and service projects. What I was most excited to find in college were a group of people who were as driven and involved as I am and people that would push me to be the best version of myself. I found that in Shucker.

The Shucker Fellows are involved in a multitude of activities, organizations and service projects. I found role models in Shucker that have inspired me to reach for my highest ambitions. These people are all going to do great things and even change the world with the passion and their leadership. I am proud to be a part of this organization here at Furman!

Class 7 Alli Piepert working in our session today, November 20, 2014
Hayden Rudd and Emilee O’Brien collaborating in our session today!


Keystone Pipeline Sidelined

“If you took all of the oil and gas pipelines in the U.S and wrapped them around the earth, they would circle the equator more than 100 times, but a relatively small pipeline, less than 900 miles long, and not yet built has become a huge symbol

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana after the Senate voted down the Keystone XL pipeline bill. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana after the Senate voted down the Keystone XL pipeline bill. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

The Senate voted on the proposed additions to the pipeline on Tuesday November 18th. The extensions were voted against 59-41 in the Senate after passing in the House.

The Keystone Pipeline currently extends from Nebraska to Oklahoma and eventually to Texas through various connecting pipelines. The proposed project would’ve connected Alberta Canada to Nebraska and been able to carry oil from Alaska all the way to Texas.

Many opponents of the pipeline argue the environmental impact would be too significant and outweighs the potential job creation or available oil it would create.

One of the main environmental concerns is the emissions of greenhouse gases which could in return effect climate change. Producing crude oil from sands emits 17 percent more oil than traditional drilling.

The XL Keystone Pipeline planned to cross borders into Canada, as a result the State Department took a leading role in the implementation and fact finding of this plan. They released an environmental review that concluded that the environmental impact would be significant because the oil will be produced regardless of whether the pipeline is put into place.

What further makes this pipeline unique is the power President Obama has over the bill, because it crosses international borders, it requires a “presidential permit” Obama’s decision becomes increasingly difficult due to the political nature of the issue. His vote could set the tone of how he plans to handle his newly elected Republican Congress, but furthermore it has implications in the Democratic Party where the party is genuinely split.


Supporters, like Mary Landrieu, who was pushing the vote to save her political life, argue that the pipeline will create a significant number of jobs. The State Department concludes that the jobs would primarily be created during the construction phase, and approximately only 50 of those jobs would be permanent. 

Political strategists were skeptical of what the bill and the pipeline could do for Landrieu politically in her midterm election against Bill Cassidy. She was behind 5-8 percentage points prior to pushing the bill and the pipeline has little impact on her Louisiana voter base. 

Regardless of the outcome for Mary Landrieu, Congress is likely to see this bill again and it has even been suggested the Obama could pursue the bill himself.


Key to 2014 Midterm Elections

In the final days before the midterm election, its clear that both parties recognize the key to winning this midterm election is the female voters. Obama said it himself; “When women succeed, America succeeds and we should be choosing policies that benefit women”

Obama gives speech on October 31 2014 in Providence Rhode Island to speak out on women's issues two days before the midterm election.
Obama gives speech on October 31 2014 in Providence Rhode Island to speak out on women’s issues two days before the midterm election.

Women make up more than half of the population, meaning they carry a lot of political weight in this upcoming election. Nothing emphasizes this more than 15 times Obama said “women” in his last broadcast before the election.

Obama’s broadcast shows the anxiety of the Democratic Party who is fighting to hold onto their political viability. Projected to lose control of both the House and Senate, they risk the last years of Obama’s presidency stalled by partisan tension. This midterm election in two days will decide the control of the Senate, House and 36 Governors’ seats. The GOP already controls the House and only needs to gain six seats to control the Senate. With stakes this high, both parties are scrambling to gain the female vote. As Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock said “There isn’t a race in this country where the women vote isn’t critical”

So what’s the key to gaining the female vote?

Politicians have suggested that women vote on gender lines, simply seeing a woman on the ballot will be enough to gain the female vote, but studies have suggested that this is not the case. One of the biggest mistakes in gaining the female vote is assuming that women vote predominantly based on their gender. So what is the biggest factor affecting the female vote? 

The answer is Party Politics.

Women have voted consistently Democratic since 1998 stated Jennifer Lawless, professor at American University who specializes in gender studies. On top of a historical record, the Democratic Party also has Emily’s List, a successful PAC dedicated to electing progressive women. The Republican Party has no PAC with an equivalent record of success or equal amount of visibility. 

Not to mention the inditement against the Republican Party of their “War on Women.” The Democratic Party brought back this strategy that was successful in 2012 in hopes that it would be successful again. Emily’s List Director of Communications said “From blocking women’s access to health care and birth control, to working against equal pay for women, to opposing an increase in the minimum wage, Republicans are totally out of step with American women.” The movement hopes to underscore that although there may have been a change in Republican messaging, there has been no equivalent change in policy. Policy is expected to play a large role, particularly and expectedly women’s reproductive rights such as abortion and contraception.

An interesting question becomes what role will female politicians play in generating the female vote? If women are the key to the midterm elections, does that guarantee more female candidates to be elected?

The answer is no, the party affiliation appears to be the strongest factor in determining the female vote this midterm elections.

Take for example Joni Ernst a Republican candidate in Iowa. Currently she is up in the polls, but Bruce Braley, her Democratic opponent has 57% of the female vote. Its argued that Ernst’s support is generated by outside groups instead of the female vote.  The support of female voters for a male Democratic candidate over a female suggests that Party plays a larger role than gender allegiance in determining the female vote.

Nonetheless Ernst groundbreaking campaign is interesting in other respects. She transformed herself from a relative unknown and now has gathered enormous national attention for the political risks she is taking through her campaign. Some of these risks include a commercial where she discusses her background in castrating pigs.

Her next ad featured her stepping off her motorcycle and then firing “shots” at Obamacare.

Ernst is breaking rules, running on the “tough” image of female politicians, and although it hasn’t garnered the female vote, it has provided an interesting dynamic and will likely have far reaching implications on future campaigns.

Another example is Terri Lynn Land who is behind Gary Peters (D) by 12 points with the female voters. This also could be tied to her overemphasis on women’s issue’s and the so called “War on Women” Her advertisement “Really?” addressing this is considered one of the 7 most ridiculous advertisements of this election.

Hillary Clinton, Kay Hagan

AP OBAMA A USA NCThe last example of this Party allegiance is Kay Hagan whose lead over Thom Tillis is entirely due to women. Hagan is currently ahead of Tillis with the female vote by 19 points. In this battleground state Obama and both Clintons have campaigned at her side.

Kay Hagan also provides an interesting campaign. Her re-election campaign is one the toughest in the country and the high-profile support has draw even more national attention to the election with Thom Tillis. The slideshow below demonstrates several newspaper articles in the past week which have featured her campaign for re-election. Hagan has been a Senator since 1999. In 2008, when she defeated incumbent Senator Elizabeth Dole, she became the first female Senator to defeat a female incumbent Senator. She has supported several Democratic initiatives like the Affordable Care Act, the DREAM Act and has consistently supported abortion rights for women.

This is a testament that currently the Democratic Party reflects the values women share most effectively. Emphasis on equal pay, reproductive freedom and education seem to be more in line with what women are looking for in this upcoming election. This gives hope to the Democratic Party in the next two days; their success is riding entirely on the female vote.


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