Inspire Colorado Leader, Sophie Cardin, a recent high school graduate and receiver of the coveted Boettcher Scholarship, recently answered a few questions about her involvement with Inspire.
IUS.: Tell us a little about yourself: where you go to school, what you did in high school, your college plans, any fun facts.
Sophie: I am finishing up my senior year at Denver South High School and moving on from my roles as president of Psychology Club and the South High School chapter of High School Democrats America. For the past four years I have worked to create a socially conscious and active student body by leading educational campaigns, leading clubs and organizing rallies such as the DPS for DACA - South Stands With Dreamers Rally and the 17 Minute Walk Out For Gun Control. Aside from my activism, I have also gotten more involved in art and poetry. I make ceramic mugs and teapots in my spare time and I attend and perform at weekly poetry readings at the Mercury Cafe. I have also published my own short collection of poems and am working on another poetry book. I plan to attend Colorado College in the fall and plan on studying a mix of political science, sociology and gender, race, and anthropology.
IUS: What is the Boettcher Scholarship?
Sophie: The Boettcher Scholarship is a merit scholarship awarded for “superior scholastic ability, evidence of leadership, involvement and service to community and school, and outstanding character” (Boettcher Foundation). It provides 42 Colorado students with full-ride scholarships to any Colorado institution and supplements the scholarship with grants and opportunities for mentorship.
IUS.: How and why did you get involved with Inspire U.S.? What did you do to register peers to vote at your school and what were the results?
Sophie: Last year I began working with Inspire by organizing a voter registration drive at South High School that targeted eligible juniors and seniors. At the end of last year, I attended senior check-out to try to register seniors who had not previously registered to vote. This year I organized another voter registration drive for juniors and seniors. I drafted a voter education document that discussed the various school board candidates and Denver ballot measures. We distributed this “ballot cheat sheet” to the South High School juniors and seniors, and I recruited volunteers from adult and student organizations to assist in this year’s voter registration drive. Simply put, we (the young people) are not the leaders of tomorrow, we are the leaders of right now and we need to vote to enact the change we wish to see in the world.
IUS: What other ways have you been civically engaged while in high school?
Sophie: In addition to organizing rallies and Inspire CO (a program of IUS), I managed Tay Anderson’s School Board Campaign. As Campaign Manager for Tay Anderson, I headed up our campaign team. I drafted agendas, lead meetings, organized volunteers, planned community canvassing events and managed a voter database, working towards a school system focused on equity for all students. I also spent my last semester as a legislative intern for Rep. Michaelson Jenet in the Colorado General Assembly; I do a variety of things from the menial answering emails and filing to doing bill research and writing articles for the House District 30 newsletter.
IUS: Why do you think it's important that your peers get involved in civics and politics while still in high school?
Sophie: Government and bureaucracy are slow to change, so, the changes made now will take effect in the future and are longer lasting. We must make the changes now, that we wish to see in the future because the future of this country is our future.
IUS: How do you hope your generation participates in upcoming elections this year and beyond?
Sophie: I hope we turn up en masse. I want the needs of America's young people to be heard and be acted upon, this will only happen if we vote.
IUS: How will you stay engaged in civics and politics after high school?
Sophie: I hope to run for student government and involve myself in the local politics of Colorado Springs (where I will be attending school) by working with the democratic party and volunteering for local campaigns and candidates.