Welcome to Women in Politics: College Edition, where promising women leaders in student government on college and university campuses across the country will be featured on msnbc.com over the course of the year. Alyssa Weinstein has been nominated by Emory University as a leader making a difference not only through key issues on campus, but in bridging the gender gap in politics.
As part of a new series at msnbc, “Women of 2014,” these hand-selected women become part of a larger discussion of women candidates and women’s issues on a national level. “Women of 2014” is a home for all women in politics – notably those in some of the year’s most pivotal races – with newsmaker interviews, profiles, photos, a Twitter trail following more than 35 candidates, and deep dives into the key conversations.
From the Ivy Leagues to the Big Ten to liberal arts colleges and beyond, young women are making a difference across the country – meet them here!
Name: Alyssa Weinstein
School: Emory University
Hometown: Short Hills, New Jersey
Concentration: International Studies Major, Global Health Minor
Dream job: Governor of New Jersey
Class year: Sophomore
What is your biggest challenge as a leader on campus?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen as a leader on campus has been getting student groups to work together. Emory has a lot of small, amazing groups that could accomplish even more if they worked together. As the newly elected Vice President of College Council, I have made it a priority to work with the new council in ways to encourage more collaborative leadership. This year, we introduced Emory Presidents Forum, which brings together presidents of all campus organizations for events once or twice a semester to foster leadership and encourage greater collaboration. We have received great feedback after our first event, and we will continue to look for new ways to bring student groups together.
Which female leaders do you draw inspiration from?
I’m not sure I’m able to name just one! Many of the female figures I look up to have dedicated themselves to better the lives of other women. I have been inspired by women like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Claire McCaskill, who have fought for important women’s issues, such as sexual assault in the military. I am also inspired by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis after her fierce attempt to protect reproductive rights, and now as she is trying to take an even larger leadership role as governor. Of all the inspirational female figures thus far, I think I have been most inspired by Malala Yousafzai, who has proven that bravery and vision can come from women of all ages as she fights for a woman’s right to education.
What comes to mind first when you think about important moments in history?
When I think about important moments in history, the Arab Spring protests come to mind. It’s a modern example of how organized and nonviolent youth movements can work to create progressive and democratic regime change. While not all of the Arab Spring protests have created the same positive results that we have seen in countries like Tunisia, it’s a promising reminder of how much can be accomplished when people of a country unite for a common goal.
What do you think should be President Obama’s No. 1 priority?
I believe the #1 priority for the president should be poverty alleviation. In a country with so much wealth and opportunity, it is sometimes too easy for politicians to forget about the millions of Americans living under the poverty line, and the one million children who regularly go to bed hungry in the United States. It is the job of the president and our government to better allocate our resources to stop hunger and poverty.
Favorite ice cream flavor?
Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com