To all those Penn students despairing today,
I woke up this morning to 40 texts and 5 missed calls asking if I was okay, if I had seen the news, if my family should come to Philly to check on me. Emails about CAPs and support groups and help for minority and LGBT students flooded my inbox. A misty pallor covered the skyline I usually can see from my window. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to November 9, 2016.
As a Clinton Fellow (read: fancy term for intern) with the Democratic National Committee, I worked 20 hours each week with the campaign in West Philadelphia. My colleagues and I occupied a small office on 533 S. 52nd Street for 4 months, 7 days out of the week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. My tireless organizer, my fellow fellows, our hardworking volunteers—we all worked our asses off to turn out votes for the first Madam President.
In effect, I gave my first semester of my freshman year here to this campaign. I don't regret it for a second. Since I could remember, I empathized with Hillary Rodham Clinton. Like her, I would not "sit home and bake cookies and have teas". I wanted, since the age of 6, to be Secretary of State too. This summer at the DNC, I witnessed the roll call vote that nominated her to run for the presidency. Yes, I cried.
But my relationship with Hillary was not born totally out of identity politics. Working so hard on this campaign gave me friends, a shitty hole–in–the–wall office in West Philadelphia to call home, a constant supply of phone calls to make and doors to knock. More than anything, though, this work gave me purpose. I was proud to work for Hillary, not just because of the flaws of her opponent but for the good I believed she would enact as our first female president.
Then and now, I admire her tenacity, her policy, her ability to weather the storm of 30 years in public life, her tireless work in defense of children and families. I'm not a reluctant supporter who voted for her against Donald Trump—I'm all in. I'm with her, and nothing is ever going to change that.
Election night, I watched live as John Podesta told attendees at Hillary's final campaign party to go home and sleep. I slept too, but I woke up afraid.
I so badly wanted HRC to shatter that last glass ceiling. So badly that it hurts like a dull punch straight to the stomach. I have to be content that the work of our office and our organizers led to record turnout in Philadelphia County, that the millennial vote proved overwhelmingly pro–Clinton and that people are still, somehow, good at heart.
There's only one thing to do with this fear and despair—channel it into action. Protect Planned Parenthood. Protect immigrants and Muslim–Americans. Protect the LGBTQ community. Penn, it's on us to protect ourselves, to protect each other and to persevere, for her and for us.
A (proud) former Clinton Fellow