“Being The Change” — The Power of One Incredible AU Alum

By: Connor Miller, KPU Production Logistics Manager

At the start of the pandemic, I almost lost my campus job and had to move out of the dorms and back home. As a political science major, I wanted to spend the summer before the 2020 election working with a candidate that inspired me. Frantically trying to find an opportunity, I reached out to a contact I had on Sarah McBride’s campaign in Delaware; and the rest is history. I spent the summer and most of the next semester closely working with Sarah, I was able to talk with her weekly and the ideas that I envisioned for the campaign were taken seriously. I am now proud to not only call Sarah my home State Senator, but also a mentor. When I first learned that KPU was thinking of bringing Senator McBride to campus virtually, I was ecstatic. I was incredibly excited to work again with one of the best bosses I’ve ever had, and even more thrilled for the AU community to be able to hear from her.

To kick off one of our last events of the semester, we asked Senator McBride about her political journey, her time at American University when she was the President of Student Government, and how her identity has affected her journey. Following college graduation, Sarah was active in securing landmark non-discrimination legislation in Delaware and was National Press Secretary for the national Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. She told us how her experience at AU well prepared her for political campaigns: “Serving in Student Government at AU, the thought [of running for political office] crosses your mind because you realize how similar those campaigns are to the real campaign, for better or for worse, you can’t help see the parallels and ask, is this something I want to do?”

State Senator McBride has not wasted any time in legislating. She is the Chair of the Health & Social Services committee and instrumental with the Covid-19 testing and vaccine roll-out, and a member of four other state senate committees that focuses on issues such as criminal justice reform and health care affordability. More importantly, she prioritizes making connections with her constituents. I’ve always found Senator McBride to be an extremely effective communicator. During her campaign, she was able to bring citizens together from across the political aisle. As she told us, “Win or lose, the conversations you have with voters will fill you with gratitude and hope in a time where our politics can fill you with toxicity and negativity.” Her conversation with KPU illustrated her ability as an effective communicator when talking to AU students, just as she had been on the campaign trail.

Sarah McBride is a champion for LGBTQ+ rights and brings that passion to her advocacy and political work. She emphasized that “Being trans is my superpower; it has made me a better, more compassionate person.” It is her compassion and commitment to do what is right that resulted in her winning 73% of the vote in her State Senate race — that and her belief that when people come together, real change can happen. Her optimism for the future of our country was another theme she expanded on during the KPU event. Sarah ended her talk by stating, “The best way for me to do justice by the trans community is showing that trans legislators can be effective representatives of their community and help bring about change on all issues that matter.”

Sarah McBride’s election as the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the nation comes at the same time state legislators are attempting to ban medical treatment for transgender and nonbinary people and from competing in youth sports. Yet Sarah is undeterred from her work to level the playing field and provide dignity and equality for all. Hearing tonight from a newly elected politician who is also an AU alumna and a former president of AUSG was not only inspiring but also shows how we can be the change we want to see in our world.

Check Out Our Cosponsors:

Visible Magazine is a publication at AU dedicated to amplifying queer voices by providing a platform as unique and dynamic as the community itself.

AU Pride is American University’s premier LGBTQ+ student group. They strive to defend and protect the rights and interests of our members and the American University lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) community as a whole.

The AU Women & Politics Institute provides practical and academic training to women that encourages them to become involved in the political process and facilitates research by faculty and students that enhances our understanding of the challenges and opportunities women face in the political arena.

The Kennedy Political Union (KPU) is the non-partisan, student-run, student-funded speakers bureau at American University.