Senior Lauren Ackerman Speaks to Congressional Committee in Washington

Senior Lauren Ackerman Speaks to Congressional Committee in Washington

Lauren Ackerman

Senior Lauren Ackerman (far left in photo) spoke at a Congressional roundtable at the Capitol on August 1 about youth involvement in the political world. Ackerman, who for most of her teen years was home schooled and not politically involved, went to Washington for her SESP practicum this summer to become more civically engaged.

With a group of 15 Congressmen and Congresswomen who came together for the Youth Vote Congressional Roundtable, Ackerman emphasized the need to eliminate barriers to voting for young people and create more civics education. She would like to see more online access to voting and more education about how and where college students can vote.

“My main point was to share how more needs to be done to educate and give power to young adults,” she says. “The barriers to voting are ridiculous in some areas, making it even more difficult for young adults to get involved. Although I was offered to vote while at college, before I was 21, I realized that it was inconvenient for students to follow through and vote because not many young adults use snail mail anymore.”

"It was an honor to speak, and I had a great time,” says Ackerman. An overall theme for the meeting was that colleges have a major responsibility for fostering involvement, although Ackerman thinks Northwestern is doing a good job, especially through the Center for Civic Engagement.

A practicum seminar led to the Congressional experience for Ackerman, a learning and organizational change major. Her practicum professor, Ellen Shearer, introduced her to Johanna Berkson, chief of staff of OurTime.org, an organization devoted to representing the political and consumer needs of young people, which was seeking a speaker for the Congressional roundtable. Berkson was a speaker during the practicum seminar.

Ackerman was home schooled from eighth grade to senior year of high school. “I was not involved with very much of the political process until I turned 21 and was offered to register to vote while at the DMV. And I wanted to drastically change that to take control over my life and actively participate in the world and things that matter to me,” she explains. As a result, she sought a practicum in Washington, D.C.

“I did not have the typical public school experience and was influenced politically in other ways. … I have been able to do a lot of things in the business world, working with Young Presidents’ Organization, going to school at Northwestern and being a varsity student-athlete, but I was not involved very much politically, and that was a problem.”

“Many people that I have met are not happy with certain aspects of our government or the direction that it is heading, but it is not completely the responsibility of those working in the government, it is largely the responsibility of the United States citizens, and they are the ones who are accountable for the situation and who we elect. Thus, creating more involvement with young adults is crucial for fostering involvement and responsibility of our nation,” says Ackerman. 

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 9/11/12