By Camille Traslavina
My name is Camille Traslavina, and I’m a junior at Harvard College. This summer, along with five other students from universities across the country, I had the privilege of working as a summer associate at Democracy Works. The associates joined the TurboVote Partnerships Team in Brooklyn, New York, and took on a number of projects, often aimed at building new relationships with higher education institutions interested in helping their students become more civically engaged, and assisting existing partner universities in effectively implementing TurboVote.
We worked on projects which included researching the civic engagement climates on college campuses, supporting students and faculty in their voter engagement efforts, hosting informational webinars for current and potential partners, developing materials that offer effective strategies for getting students registered, and helping Democracy Works prepare to best serve partner campuses as they intensify voter registration efforts leading up to the November presidential election.
In addition to coordinating with colleges and universities, we had the opportunity to be involved with the TurboVote Challenge, working with companies and organizations committed to reaching 80 percent voter turnout in the U.S. As a part of this effort, we attended the TurboVote Challenge Summit, a two-day meeting during which all participating organizations shared their visions for our democracy and developed plans for increasing voter registration and turnout in the coming years.
We associates also represented Democracy Works at the World Youth Report on Youth Civic Engagement at the United Nations Headquarters. While our time was focused primarily on TurboVote, we also became familiar with, and contributed to, Democracy Works’s other projects, including Ballot Scout and the Voting Information Project.
As college students, I think associates are able to bring an important student perspective to Democracy Works, and I know that for many of us, this summer served as our first experience in a nonprofit organization, startup environment. We formed friendships with each other and the office staff that will remain meaningful for years to come. I hope we’ll continue to reflect on our experiences at Democracy Works and explore ways to use what we’ve learned throughout our school years and beyond. We have all now returned to our respective colleges and universities, and started laying groundwork to get our peers to the polls this November, but the memories shared during the summer we spent in Brooklyn preparing for one of our country’s most influential elections will not soon fade.