March 28, 2024

Political science major lands Campus Vote Project internship, furthering her civic experiences and helping colleges across the nation engage students

Students volunteer to help people register to vote
Political science major Rachel John (far left) has secured an internship with Campus Voter Project, where she works to promote civic engagement among students at Wayne State and other campuses.

Wayne State University provides opportunities for all students to engage and build a foundation for long-term career success. Sophomore Rachel John has a clear vision for her future career, and she's manifesting it with opportunities and connections on campus. A double major in political science and global studies in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College, John is propelling her career with opportunities outside the classroom — including a role on Student Senate and work with the Dean of Students Office to support campus civic engagement. Through that work, John secured an internship with Campus Vote Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting student voting across the country.

Sophomore Rachel John

“I’ve always wanted to help people take action for change and to bridge the gaps that prevent people from coming to a peaceful, mutual understanding,” she said. “Working with Student Senate and Campus Vote Project has allowed me to see the power of organizing and engaging.”

John’s successes align with WSU’s College to Career initiative, which seeks to offer every student experiential learning opportunities that help them encounter the world while gaining deeper insights and new perspectives.

“In providing both an exceptional academic experience and real-life learning experiences, Wayne State prepares our students to graduate, launch their careers and make an immediate impact in their chosen fields," said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Lauzon Clabo. “Students like Rachel exemplify the kind of success that’s possible with these opportunities.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Laurie Lauzon Clabo

John got involved with Campus Vote Project through her role on Wayne State’s Student Senate and related efforts with the Dean of Students Office (DOSO). She served as a democracy fellow in 2023, where she worked to increase voter registration on campus, inform her peers about voting laws, and learn about candidates and ballot issues.

Following the fellowship, John was offered an internship at Campus Vote Project to focus on external outreach. As an intern, John serves as an ambassador for the organization, working to share resources with campuses in states with low student voter engagement and/or more restrictive voting rights. She is involved in the initial campus outreach and provides mentorship and support to create goals and action plans to increase student voter engagement.

Her work builds on Wayne State’s ever-growing culture of civic engagement. The university is regularly recognized as a ‘Voter Friendly Campus’ and boasts more than 90% voter registration, with a 73.5% voter turnout in the 2020 general election. This high engagement rate is widely attributed to the collaborative leadership of Student Senate and DOSO in establishing a polling precinct on campus, making Election Day a university holiday, and creating access to unbiased, nonpartisan information about the voting process and ballot items through the Warriors Vote campaign.

Brandon Shamoun
Assistant Dean of Students Brandon Shamoun

“As a college student, you’re busy,” said John. “There’s class, work, life — you’re not necessarily thinking about what’s on the ballot, or when it’s time to vote. But you should be. I want students to feel like their campus is a place where they can learn, grow and take agency over the future.”

John said she’s found support from both faculty and staff at WSU, citing Dean of Students David Strauss, Assistant Dean of Students Brandon Shamoun and Political Science Professor Kevin Deegan-Krause as mentors.

“One of the best things about Wayne State’s successes in civic engagement is that so much of it has been driven by students. They’re really getting grassroots, organizing experience,” said Shamoun. “We’ve worked to make Wayne State a national leader in student voting, and now, through Rachel’s experiences with Campus Vote Project, are able to take that success and help students across the country.”

David Strauss
Dean of Students David Strauss

John continues to stay busy reaching her goals with the Student Senate, where she serves as parliamentarian and works on the organization’s bylaws and charters. Beyond civic engagement, Student Senate is tackling a range of initiatives, including campus recycling, mental health awareness, and deepening the connection between Detroit and WSU through collaboration with elected officials.

“Rachel is a wonderful ambassador for the civic-mindedness that exemplifies our students. Through her student extracurricular involvement, she has found her passion that has helped shape her career aspirations,” said Strauss. “Getting involved, like Rachel has, helps students experience opportunities and build connections that can open so many doors.”

Contact

Katie McMillan
Phone: 586-344-8878
Email: katie.mcmillan@wayne.edu

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