Activist Spotlight: The Vote Everywhere Ambassadors
Vote Everywhere, run through the Andrew Goodman Foundation, is a national, non-partisan, civic engagement movement of student leaders and university partners. Ambassadors on college campuses empower students to vote through voter registration drives, education events, get out the vote activities, tackling important social justice issues on their college campuses, and more.
Read more on how Pace’s very own Vote Everywhere Ambassadors, Ariella Riapos and Carina Draper, became involved with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, their progress so far as V.E. Ambassadors at Pace, and what’s to come in the future from them!
Ariella Riapos: Class of 2017, Political Science
Carina Draper: Class of 2019, Peace and Justice & Communication Studies
This opportunity has changed me as a leader in that I am now able to see more of all sides’ point of view, which in itself is a whole new world, so to speak. I find that I am constantly questioning my views and expanding my knowledge.
How did you first become involved with the Andrew Goodman Foundation? How did you hear about the opportunity to become a Vote Everywhere Ambassador?
A: I first heard about the opportunity through a job listing at the Center for Community Action and Research (CCAR). I had worked with CCAR a few times on campus and the job description seemed to match everything I wanted to do. I got the position and began my career with the Andrew Goodman Foundation!
C: I got involved because a professor recommended me. The semester before I was a part of VE, I was a part of Generation Citizen, which was an awesome experience. I felt that since I volunteered with GC before, I should maybe try something new!
What’s one important thing we should know about your role as a Pace VE Ambassador?
A: We are here to help! Any questions about voting or voter registration or how our political systems work are more than welcome. Our goal is educate and register as many students as possible. Most of these processes are very complicated, and often times intentionally so, so never feel shy asking us about any questions you may have.
C: It’s important to know that we are your allies and we want you to get involved in your political community while still being respectful and open-minded toward other views. We want you to come to us and ask us about how to get involved in the City. We want to teach you about the registering, voting, getting involved and acquiring knowledge in politics so that you may engage and vote well!
Could you name a time where you came across an obstacle within your role on campus that you were able to overcome? How did this change you as a leader?
A: One of our biggest obstacles is definitely making the Pace community more aware of us and what we do on campus. We’re making more of a name for ourselves, but it was hard at first. It challenged us to find different ways to make ourselves visible.
C: Two obstacles I had to overcome were staying non-partisan and balancing my time. I was perfectly fine being non-partisan while registering voters but during certain events when topics of interest came up, I had to bite my tongue a bit. This opportunity has changed me as a leader in that, I am now able to see more of all sides’ point of view, which in itself is a whole new world, so to speak. I find that I am constantly questioning my views and expanding my knowledge. This role has also helped me with time management. I also work at Starbucks, so balancing school, work, internship, social life, and sleep was a struggle at first. I have now found a happy medium, where I work hard but I now have a little time to play!
Could you tell me about some of the accomplishments you have made here at pace as a VE Ambassador?
A: We’ve been on campus for a year at this point and in that time, we’ve registered almost 1,000 Pace students to vote, held poll walks for the primaries and election day, co-sponsored the Presidential debate watches, hosted a movie night with David Goodman (President of the Andrew Goodman Foundation), and held an election returns party.
C: Well, not to brag but, we have registered well over 500 voters within the last semester. We have an amazing team not only in the office, but also with our Vote Captains. Our events are literally the coolest. We have had debate watches, movie nights, panels, and many more exciting things to come! We also were the first Vote Everywhere Ambassadors in NYC.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not busy at work?
A: I’m usually always doing some kind of work, but on the rare occasions that I’m not, I like spending time with my cat and eating delicious food.
C: I love going on food adventures around the city, reading, watching movies, and having small tea parties by myself. I really want to get into doing more local theatre or even do silks classes. I have been in theatre since the fourth grade, but the cirque classes are something that I thought would be super fun!
What is next to come for the VE Ambassadors and the Andrew Goodman Foundation at Pace? What are some exciting plans we can look forward to?
A: This semester we are really hoping to work with SDACA and Res Life to make sure that voter registration on campus is 100% institutionalized so instead of bothering everyone in their dorms and in the cafe about voter registration, we can just plan awesome events for you guys like our Into to Activism Night and our Social Justice Open Mic Night!
C: Big things! We have an intro to activism night coming up in March, we are trying to do a Bimonthly podcast/ YouTube channel to go beyond the Pace community and answer questions in a more casual, less office-y environment. Disclaimer: Our office is literally the warmest (temperament and temperature wise) yet people are still spooked to some see us. We are trying to institutionalize voting at Pace and in New York so that instead of dorm storming and interrupting your lunch in the café we can just register everyone in one fell swoop during orientation and then collect stragglers as the semester goes on.
How can Pace students get more involved with your efforts?
A: Reach out to us! Stop by Y-31 for information on anything we have upcoming, join our Facebook group Vote Everywhere at Pace, and become a Vote Captain to help us with events and get support doing your own brand of activism on campus. But most importantly make sure you’re not only registered but you actually go out and VOTE!
C: Become a Vote Captain, attend our events, email us your questions (email@example.com) and don’t forget to not only register but also vote in your local and state elections, as well as the national one.
This interview was conducted by Cesar Ballesteros, Student Outreach and New Media Projects Coordinator for the Center for Community Action and Research at Pace University NYC. Do you know a Pace student, staff, or faculty member doing amazing work who should be featured as a volunteer or activist spotlight? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!