Most college students are politically active in some way, whether it’s joining a campus organization, being informed or voting. But some students take their involvement a step further and join political campaigns to promote their ideas and gain experience.
Allie Estorge, sophomore political science(pre-law) major, is a campaign intern for Delbert Hosemann’s campaign for secretary of state and Missy McGee’s campaign for state representative. She also serves as an intern for Congressman Steven Palazzo.
For Estorge, the most challenging part about campaigning is stepping out of your comfort zone.
“If you’re not comfortable being a little pushy and getting people to the polls and making people understand why it’s important to vote, then that can a little difficult. It was for me at first. But after you get past that fear, you get better at it,” Estorge said.
Estorge said that she thinks it’s important for students to be informed about politics and to even get involved with campaigns if that’s something they’re interested in.
“I think it’s one of those things that can be intimidating at first, but it’s such a rewarding experience to see everything at work and see people who love to do what they do,” Estorge said. “It’s very rewarding at the end of the day, win or lose, because you know that you are working towards a cause to better the state that you live in.”
Jacob Nelson, a senior criminal justice major, first started working in politics earlier this year when he began working on Bill Waller’s campaign for governor as its Hattiesburg coordinator.
After Waller lost the nomination, he became the Hattiesburg coordinator for Jay Hughes’ campaign for lieutenant governor in August. Nelson said that Hughes’ focus on education is what made him want to work for the campaign.
“My mom’s a teacher and I think they need better and students need better. And as a guy who donates his entire house rep. salary to the Oxford Public School District, where he represents, he’s a good guy,” Nelson said.
Nelson said that working for both campaigns has been a great experience for him. Through them, he’s gained valuable contacts and experience.
“I gave a speech for Waller on his campaign in front of 450 people at a fair,” Nelson said. “That’s not something that a lot of people can say that they’ve done anytime in their college career. And to say that I did it and loved doing it is something that you can only get on a campaign really.”
Nelson said that while he has enjoyed his work campaigning, it is also often a stressful position, especially as a student.
“A lot of my nights I’m until like 3 a.m. doing homework, but it’s part of the job and I enjoy it,” Nelson said.
Although the job is stressful, Nelson the high stress and and working on a time limit is also what he enjoys most about working on campaigns.
Another student working on a local campaign is Miranda Williams, a social work graduate student. Williams serves as the executive assistant for former mayor of Hattiesburg, Johnny DuPree, for his campaign for secretary of state.
During her time as an undergraduate at Southern Miss, Williams took a policy course taught by DuPree that sparked her interest to be involved in politics.
“Him being the former mayor, we got a unique perspective,” Williams said. “He taught us how our role as social workers is so pivotal to ensuring our clients are heard and because of him and that class, I went to Connecticut for a social work campaign school to learn about other social workers on campaigns and what they do.”
Aside from her work on the DuPree campaign, Williams worked on Jeramey Anderson’s campaign for congress and is also the secretary of the Young Democrats of Mississippi.
While Williams has enjoyed working on the campaign and wants to continue her involvement with campaigns after this one ends, she said that it is often difficult to find a good balance between life, school and campaign work.
“It is hard to explain to family and friends that I am never truly off the clock and it is not uncommon to receive emails or phone calls super early or super late,” Williams said. “However, I have found that the ‘do not disturb’ function on my phone is my friend and helps me stay focused and be efficient. Also, I have been lucky enough to work for candidates who remind me that school, family and my mental health come first.”
Logan Miller, a freshman entrepreneurship major, is involved with Tate Reeves campaign for governor and mainly contributes by calling voters and talking to voters in the community about Reeves.
Miller said that he has always liked politics and thought being involved in campaigning would be good experience and an opportunity to see how it works.
“I’ve admired what Tate Reeves has done for the state of Mississippi and I wanted to contribute more to politics than just voting,” Miller said.
Miller said that the best and most challenging part about being his involvement has been engaging with and having real conversations with people who don’t support Reeves.
“If I’ve been unable to switch their vote, I’ve been able to find common ground. I think that’s the key to politics, especially today,” Miller said.