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Grassroots experiences inspire political dreams

Leah Campbell, SSH’14, set high standards for her first co-​​op expe­ri­ence at Northeastern. Her ideal position, she decided, would help her develop grassroots orga­ni­za­tional skills and overseas campaign expe­ri­ence while also fostering her personal and edu­ca­tional growth.

That first co-​​op in Spring 2013 at Oxfam America—whose mission is to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice throughout the world—turned out to be the perfect match.

Campbell, a third-​​year combined major in political science and inter­na­tional affairs, worked in the organization’s community engagement department, where she helped a team of four organize the national vol­un­teer group, which is spread across 15 U.S. cities. Camp­bell assisted in choosing these vol­un­teer leaders, dis­sem­i­nated newsletters to help pub­li­cize its events, and provided additional daily support.

Her co-​​op, she said, inspired her to pursue polit­ical sci­ence and lobby for food jus­tice and gender equality. “The grassroots orga­ni­za­tion work that I was able to do has made me excited to bring what I’ve learned—from organizing efforts to com­mu­ni­cating with the public—back to the classroom,” she explained.

Now, Camp­bell has taken this invalu­able expe­ri­ence with her to the Bar­bara Lee Family Foun­da­tion, a Cam­bridge, Mass.-based non-​​partisan orga­ni­za­tion that seeks to advance women’s equality and rep­re­sen­ta­tion in U.S. pol­i­tics. Camp­bell exam­ines the suc­cessful strate­gies women can­di­dates have used to get elected for a team that edu­cates women run­ning for elected office throughout the country and coor­di­nates with non­profit part­ners. In her role for the Bar­bara Lee Polit­ical Office, she pre­pares a daily media sum­mary and assists the team by tracking sev­eral can­di­dates’ cam­paigns, including: Michelle Nunn for Senate in Georgia and Wendy Davis for gov­ernor in Texas. She also helps update both the Foun­da­tion and Political Office websites.

Last month, Campbell told the Twit­ter­verse why she “hearts” co-​​op. “#iheart­coop because it helped me realize that there are still tremendous oppor­tu­ni­ties for young people today, even for human­i­ties majors!,” she tweeted.

These rewarding co-​​op expe­ri­ences have helped her iden­tify her ideal career path. “I would love to work in gov­ern­ment rela­tions for a non­profit or con­tinue with grass­roots orga­nizing,” she said. “I’m extremely com­fort­able interacting with people, so I’d love to be able to apply those kinds of skills to my career and work as an agent on the ground to get messages out to the public.”

Not only is Campbell active in the com­mu­nity, but she’s also a trailblazer on Northeastern’s campus. A former member of the North­eastern Choral Society and NUStage Musical The­atre, Campbell is a founding member of Pitch, Please!, Northeastern’s premier all-​​women a cap­pella group, founded in the fall of 2012. She’s proud of the fact that since its founding, Pitch, Please! has since produced an EP, performed at official uni­ver­sity events, and placed third in the Wildcard round for the 2013 Inter­na­tional Cham­pi­onship of Col­le­giate A Cappella.

Camp­bell has also taken advan­tage of other expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties at North­eastern. Last summer she par­tic­i­pated in a Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­gram in Argentina, where she studied Spanish lan­guage and cul­ture. And this summer, she will par­tic­i­pate in a polit­ical communications-​​themed Dia­logue pro­gram in Greece.

– By Jordana Torres

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