It’s time to vote on your favorite entry for our Camp Wellstone scholarships. We have selected 4 finalists based on entries we received and think we have some really great candidates to attend the camp. Each finalist will receive a PB t shirt and your favorite two will go to the camp on us!
Here’s how it will work. We’ve posted each entry below. We encourage everyone to read them here and give entrants their feedback in comments and tell us who their favorite two are. Based on the quality of the entries and our reader feedback we’ll pick the two we think most deserve to go to the camp and announce them on Friday at 5pm sharp. Full entries after the jump.
#1 – Shandell L. Jamal
Throughout history, humble beginnings have brought forth individuals who have greatly impacted our society and championed the plight of the less fortunate. This is evidenced by the lives of Camp Wellstone’s namesakes – Paul and Sheila Wellstone. As I reflected on their biographies, the parallels between their stories and my own life became evident. I too, have come from humble beginnings and from this have learned many life lessons.
Throughout my political career, I have had the opportunity to work for great leaders such as Governor Ted Strickland. However, as my political career advanced, my passion and my purpose was overshadowed by a lust for power and ascension. Focused on my own selfish desires, I was blindsided by the Democratic losses in 2010 and ended up unemployed. However, over the past six months, I have had significant time for self-reflection and rediscovering myself in a world in which my position was non-existent. This humbling time has provided me with the opportunity to rediscover the passion I had when I first became politically involved. I was reminded that my passion for progressive action and social empowerment exists for one sole reason – to make a difference.
During this time, I have revived my belief that my life is best lived to better that of my community. Like Paul Wellstone, I must use my talents to improve the lives of my community by standing firm in my beliefs and speaking up for the most vulnerable among us. Like Sheila Wellstone, I must use the lessons learned from my own struggles to make a difference for others. For these reasons, I am seeking an opportunity to attend Camp Wellstone. This opportunity is the key to unlocking passion and transforming it into purpose, and I am ready to serve. Camp Wellstone is a reflection of the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone and if granted a scholarship to attend, I vow to honor that legacy.
#2 – Paul Worley
My name is Paul Worley and I am an Army Veteran who just finished my active duty service and I’m looking for ways to continue to serve the country. I deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan during my time in the Army, serving as an Infantry Platoon Leader and Company Commander. It was the greatest privilege of my life to lead soldiers in combat. I believe that this life does not belong to us alone. It belongs to our children, our parents, and our families. It belongs to our neighbors and in the service of the nation. It is the duty of every citizen to give back to the nation, which gives so much in return. I look forward to the opportunity of learning how to become a better activist and leader in the community. I know attending the Camp Wellstone training would greatly prepare me for those leadership opportunities. Thank you for your time and consideration.
#3 – Zac Branstool (Future Candidate for Elected Office)
I think I’ve always had the political bug. From running for Class President in High School (I totally got Naderated) to serving as a Senator in Undergraduate Student Government at OSU and all the way to the ranks of Deputy Press Secretary with the Office of Governor Ted Strickland.
I voted in my first election in 2004 and grew stronger in the face of defeat. I watched fellow Democrats rise to power in 2006 and felt rejuvenated. I watched the primary fight and general election of a lifetime as Barack Obama was elected President.
And recently I watched in shock as so many Democrats, including Ted, were ejected from office only to be replaced with the reddest of the red conservatives.
Through the years, the ups and downs, I’ve never become disenchanted with the political process. If anything I’ve become more enthralled and enticed by the prospect of not only engaging more, but participating as a candidate.
The calling of public service has never been louder. If there’s a time for me, for any of us, to get down and dirty in the process of politics it’s now!
I want to fight to the good fight, strategize for a greater good and work for the long term growth and prosperity of Ohioans and citizens around this nation.
Be the change. That’s what I always hear. Well, I’m ready. In fact, I’m fired up and ready to go!
#4 – Corey Meyer
It was November 3, 2009, I was sitting among several thousands of my peers and community leaders awaiting the news that would decide the fate of the students in my school district. The crowd was energized despite the screen reading a disappointing result. Every few minutes an update would come in and the crowd would erupt in cheers as the margin separating the levy from passing or failing dwindled. For the past year countless teachers, community leaders and students had battled to make that day a great one. Unfortunately, everyone went home that night not knowing the result, it was simply too close to call.
I was extremely disappointed as I headed to bed that night. After my school district cut all extra-curricular activities in February of 2009, a levy was placed on the ballot for May and it failed miserably. After that, all hopes were riding on an August special election; however, the result was the same, failure. I returned to school that year the same as any other year, but my school was undoubtedly different. Across the district several hundred students had withdrawn and everyone was affected in one way or another by the lack of after school activities.
Quickly, I realized the importance of becoming highly involved in the campaign which pitted those who supported the local school district against those who wanted to see no new taxes. The anti-tax movement had previously cost the community the opportunity to receive Ohio Tobacco Settlement for the rebuilding of numerous dilapidated buildings in the district. I was not going to let them take away the full opportunity of my last two years of high school. Behind closed doors, I became heavily involved in committee based planning of campaign slogans, images, and rallies. In the community, I was knocking on doors and making calls. I was able to lead a group of twenty friends and teachers in educating the community about the importance of voting yes on the upcoming school levy.
This experience gave me unique campaigning experience and an initial foray into politics. I gained a unique respect for those who I had previously seen knocking on my door, but more importantly, I gained a love for political institutions and the work they do. Thus, I was fully inspired to dedicate myself more and more to politics. Through high school, I was able to work hard and graduate as valedictorian, while earning my Eagle Scout Rank and serving as Student Body President. Currently, I am headed to New York University in Abu Dhabi to major in Political Science.
I see Camp Wellstone as a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring my progressive views, views on stronger education, effective public unions, and a society of equality, to fruition. I know the lessons learned there will allow me to become a force for progressivism on my college campus and enable me to deepen my understanding of politics. I hope to gain a stronger sense of my self, unique relationships with fellow progressives, and ultimately, the know-how to be the best progressive possible. I am also very happy to share that the school levy did manage to pass on the third try with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck. I thank you for your consideration in this remarkable opportunity and eagerly await the results!”