By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
PHC volunteers to Minnesota: L to R, Matt Lukowiak, Megan Conlin, Jensen Near, Michelle Wright
Six of those Generation Joshua-mobilzed Student Action Teams (which were not sponsored or organized by PHC) returned to Purcellville having helped their candidates to victory. While the other dozen teams were not so fortunate, students across the board celebrated their chance to dive into the thick of hard-fought campaigns, guide dozens of youth, and develop their own leadership qualities in the process.
Sophomore Michelle Wright, who campaigned successfully for Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota’s Sixth District, earned her stripes by helping senior Matt Lukowiak and junior Jensen Near as they led a group of 80 teenagers.
“When we showed up, [Bachmann] was four points behind. Within two days of us being there, she was a point ahead!” exclaims Wright. “We were able to involve kids in the political system by making them excited about a candidate who shares similar values.”
In Pennsylvania, freshman Ryan Gilles served a losing candidate. Nonetheless, he says that he “would definitely do it again. Any time.” Although he had campaigned all the previous summer for an Illinois senator, the experience of leading 40 kids taught him more than he could have imagined.
“I learned a lot about campaigns in general—what it takes to run one,” he says. “I also learned about myself, as I found myself in more of a leadership role.”
Generation Joshua, the organization that brought together over a thousand high-schoolers and their volunteer team leaders from Patrick Henry College, mobilizes the action teams to provide positive, hands-on political experiences for youth. Jeremiah Lorrig, Deputy Director of Federal Relations for HSLDA’s PAC, explains that “our purpose is to equip people to later on make a huge difference in elections and the world.”
“Even if [these kids] don’t enter politics later, they are able to see what an average citizen can do,” he says.
And while everyone would have preferred their own candidates to win, the experiences gained were priceless. Without exception, the participating students adopted a “win some and lose some” attitude, took stock and moved on.
“I think we’re in a season of great growth for people,” says Dr. Michael Farris, Chancellor of PHC. “We can grow in sound philosophy, solid integrity, and the ability to communicate truth in a winsome fashion.”