My name is Stephanie Leitzel. I’m a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Michigan. I’m volunteering for Obama 2012 as a core team member for voter registration.
I grew up in a small town called Romeo, and I've lived in Michigan my whole life—it's an amazingly diverse state. We have large cities like Detroit and rural areas like the Upper Peninsula. We have the largest mosque in America in Dearborn, and there are also towns like the one I grew up in with a Christian church on every corner.
In 2008, I was a sophomore in high school. The only president I could remember having was George W. Bush, and the thought of having a new president was incredibly inspiring. I canvassed, called, knocked on doors, and organized student events. After electing this President the first time and seeing the progress he has made, I knew I had to work on his re-election campaign.
Today, I am a full-time student at U of M. I have 18 credits this semester, which has been nuts! I'm a history major and am particularly interested in Celtic studies, medieval history, and archaeology. I also enjoy playing my fiddle and helping out around my mom's day care.
My family is definitely working-class, and my parents taught me to be diligent and idealistic, no matter how many obstacles I faced. I would not have been able to attend college without my Pell Grant, and now, because of the President's health care plan, I can stay on my parents’ insurance—otherwise I would have had incredibly expensive insurance because I have a pre-existing condition.
Michigan is a hugely important state in this election. Middle- and working-class voters would benefit most from the President's re-election, and there are lots of us in Michigan. Unlike many candidates, President Obama supports the auto industry—the backbone of our state—and his victories in health care and education have helped average people enormously.
Everything the President has accomplished is at stake in this election: progress in education, health care, international affairs, women's rights, and more. Internationally, this President is well-loved—something that’s become clear to me here at the University of Michigan. I've made friends from all over—India, France, Tunisia, China—and I've learned that people from other countries admire our President for his ability to be a true diplomat.
My favorite part of volunteering is registering new voters and getting other young people involved in politics. I remember how exciting it was when I first became interested in politics, and how exciting it is to vote for the first time. It makes me happy to see people my age who genuinely care. I also love seeing the older generation get revved up to elect the President. My grandma has been voting since the 1940s, and she is such a progressive, spunky person—so young and old, it’s very exciting.
Fifty years from now, volunteers will be able to look back and say, "I elected that President." It's about being an active, involved American—so if you’re thinking about it, I’d say: Do it! That’s why I’ll be spending the coming months studying my butt off for finals, then working as hard as I can to re-elect the President!
Ready to join Stephanie and volunteers across the country? Sign up today.