2008 has offered all of us plenty of ups and downs. I have grown in so many ways. My successes have inspired me to keep going; my disappointments kept me focused on what is most important. Through it all, 2008 has offered many memories which I will cherish for years to come.
I feel that I owe you all a look back at my year, so I want to take this opportunity to discuss what 2008 has been like for me, and to wish you all peace and, yes, prosperity in 2009.
A year ago, I set out on an improbable mission. Concerned that the Michigan Federation of College Democrats was not being nearly as effective as it ought to be, I ran for President of MFCD. I knew my odds would be long, but I also knew that doing nothing would have been a major mistake on my part. I want to thank those of you who supported me in that endeavor.
"Shoot for the moon," someone once said. "Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." While I did not win the MFCD contest, I did get appointed Officer-at-Large of MFCD, where I used my online expertise to help promote MFCD events such as the 'Make It Happen' statewide bus tour and the Campaign Invasion for now-Congressman-elect Gary Peters. (Not to make you jealous, but I had Peters as a professor in the spring!) I would say that MFCD is in better shape now than it was a year ago, although I do plan on working to make it stronger in 2009 (in what capacity? I am not sure at this point).
But more than that, I was appointed to the College Democrats of America's National Council! And when applications for appointed positions in CDA came out in September, I jumped on the chance to apply to be CDA's New Media Director. While I applied to be New Media Director, instead I got to be Deputy National Communications Director! It was quite a bit of work before the election, though not as much now. Still, I do have some ideas on how to move CDA forward for the rest of my term (which lasts until August).
A year ago I intended to run for Democratic National Convention Delegate. I opted not to for various reasons (yes, the primary debacle was one reason, but there were plenty of other reasons beyond that). Still, I was active with local Dems both in GR/Kentwood and in Mt. Pleasant. I helped to coordinate the Kent County Democrats and Obama campaign's participation in the July 4 Parade here in Kentwood. Approximately thirty people showed up to walk in our contingent. Meanwhile, the McCain campaign's contingent was also packed, as they had... oh, wait, there was no McCain contingent even though West Michigan is known for being Republican! (Incidentally, Obama became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win Kentwood since it became a city in 1967!)
The parade was followed a month later by the primary election, where, for the second straight time, I was on the ballot for Precinct Delegate. While in 2006 I was one of three candidates for three Precinct Delegate spots, this year I was one of three candidates for just two spots. As I found out the day after the election, one candidate received 34 votes, another garnered 29... and I earned 30 votes! That's right, I won by one vote! So let Al Gore, Al Franken, and myself be your proof that voting really does matter!
Anyway, like many of you, I put in my time at the my local campaign office throughout the fall - in my case, entering data and making GOTV calls. But as an intern for the Campaign for Change, I was responsible for the Michigan for Obama page on MySpace. I wrote blog posts, posted bulletins, approved friend adds, and responded to messages. It was neat to be able to reach out to so many people across our state (and country!) during such a key campaign season!
And I will not soon forget the emotions that ran through my head on October 21. That was my 21st birthday, and it was also the day I cast my first-ever vote (absentee) in a Presidential election. What an awesome feeling of power I felt when I filled in the oval next to Barack Obama's and Joe Biden's names!
And then, November 4. A day that, while bright and unseasonably warm literally in Mount Pleasant, was even more so figuratively. And the magic of that night was so profound, you'd think Houdini or Disney was involved! There was nothing quite like leading the countdown to 11PM at the Brass Cafe and then proposing my first toast - to one of the most transformational figures modern America has seen, our nation's 44th President!
In non-political news, in September I got a new job here at Central Michigan University! Instead of working at the dining commons (ugh), I now work at the Towers Computer Lounge! The TCL is a computer lab, coffee shop, and gaming center all in one room in my residence hall complex! Also, this past spring I signed a minor in leadership. CMU is the only college in the Great Lakes State to offer a minor in leadership. Elsewhere in the family, in June my cousin graduated summa cum laude from Gibraltar's Carlson High School as one of three co-valedictorians! She has since entered Wayne State, where she is majoring in biomedical physics.
So what does 2009 hold for me? Of course, none of us know for certain; after all, life takes many strange twists and turns, and great opportunities arise all the time! Overall I intend to work to build communication and cohesion in the Democratic Party to make it more effective for years to come. President-elect Obama has done so much to bring so many people into the process, many of whom had never been involved before. Making sure these people stay involved in American civic life well beyond the election will be a top priority for me. (I will discuss this further in the coming days.)
This spring I plan to go on an Alternative Spring Break related to state park preservation. Also, I am going to be captain of Team Carey/Kulhavi Combating Cancer for Relay for Life 2009 at CMU (Carey and Kulhavi being two of CMU's residence halls; I live in Kulhavi).
If there is one thing Barack Obama has reminded me, it's that every single one of us has the power to change our world and the people around it. "We are the ones we've been waiting for," implored our 44th President. "We are the change that we seek." Neither we nor Obama can do everything by ourselves, but what a wonderful thought it is to know that we each have the power to touch each other's lives and to change them for the better!
So, to all of you who read what I had to say this year, who recommended my diaries and comments, shared your own opinions, and who once again made me feel welcome here at Daily Kos, I thank you for touching my life this year and in years past. This one's for you!