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. Jessica Davidson has been nominated by the University of Denver 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!
School: University of Denver
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
Concentration: Political Science, Leadership Studies Minor
Role in Student Government: Sophomore Senator and Academic Affairs Committee Chair
Dream job: Senior Advisor to the President of the United States
Class year: Junior
What is your biggest challenge as a leader on campus?
The biggest challenge I have faced as a leader on campus is how difficult it is to create continuity in the visions of our many leaders. Time constraints negatively impact the long-term effectiveness of any student government. Four-year institutions have a fast turnover rate of leaders – our Undergraduate Student Government senators sometimes only serve one year of their four at DU, and strong leaders with good ideas are frequently graduating or studying abroad. Meaningful change can take months or years, and with leaders coming and going, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure that important projects are continued in future years.
Which female leaders do you draw inspiration from?
Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri is an incredible woman. I am so inspired by the work she does and the way that she advocates for increasing women’s role in politics. Women only make up 18.5% of Congress, and hard-working women like Senator McCaskill are proof that the entire country will benefit from an increased female presence in politics. It’s hard to just pick one inspirational female leader though – I also draw inspiration from Sonia Sotomayor, Hillary Clinton, and Malala Yousafza, to name a few.
What comes to mind first when you think about important moments in history?
As someone who loves to read and who loves learning, I would have to say the most important moment in world history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th Century. Our entire world owes so much to its creation – the spread of politics, religion, social movements and the information age have all stood on the shoulders of the printing press. The printing press enabled everyone to be able to learn, to read, and to understand the world around them. It is genuinely incomprehensible to imagine our current world without Gutenberg’s printing press.
What do you think should be President Obama’s No. 1 priority?
I would like to see President Obama focus on increasing access to early childhood education. Studies show that 37% of children in the US are entering kindergarten without the skills necessary for life-long learning. That’s especially concerning because learning skills are about so much more than grades. There are alarming correlations between the rates of students who don’t read at grade level and the incarceration rate in the US, let alone the correlation between a lack of preschool education and the rate of high school dropouts, teen pregnancy, etc. I attribute so much of my success to my education, and I’m lucky that through pre-k education, my parents ensured I knew how to read before entering kindergarten. Unfortunately, what my parents did for me is not a reality for many families in the U.S. due to the cost of preschool. I know that the Obama Administration is committed to this issue, but more needs to happen – 37% is an alarmingly high number. While it’s difficult to approve the kind of spending that increasing preschool access may require, there is no better investment than in the education of America’s future generations.
What Smartphone app do you use the most?
I'm a news junkie and I use Twitter all the time! With Twitter you can see a story from multiple sides and opinions in the span of a just few minutes. When a major political event occurs, I see it on my newsfeed from the varying perspectives of MSNBC, Fox, The White House, Politico, Hillary Clinton and John Boehner within a few minutes -- and then can form my own informed opinion.
Follow Jessica Davidson on Twitter @DavidsonJess22 and check out last week’s female leader at Wiley College!
To nominate an exceptional undergraduate female leader in student government please email Anna Brand at Anna.Brand@nbcuni.com