A former member of NMU’s ASNMU is a currently campaign ing for Michigan state representative.NMU alumni Rebecca Thompson, current director of Young People For at People For the American Way Foundation in Washington D.C. national headquarters, started campaigning earlier this year for the position in Detroit and Lansing. Thompson was the ASNMU president from 2004 to 2005.
Thompson said her organizational involvement during her academic years at NMU served as a stepping stone into the world of U.S. politics,
“It’s really just the beginning, being ASNMU president,” Thompson said. “The reason I started campaigning is actually the same reason that inspired me to run for ASNMU: to get involved at Northern. It’s so similar to what inspired me to get involved on campus all of those years ago and, now, it is putting all of that built skill that I have applied into practice.”
Thompson graduated from NMU in 2009 with a degree in marketing. Following graduating from NMU, Thompson said she started working the College Affordability and Access Association shortly before she became the program manager for the District of Columbia Youth Advisory Council (DCYAC) underneath the current mayor of Washington D.C.
“I got my start working in D.C. working on Capitol Hill,” Thompson said. “I’ve worked in the mayor’s office in Washington D.C. under mayor Adrian Fenky and then I spent a few years training young people to become activists and organizers and to run for elected office to bring change to their communities.”
According to the Alumni Association, Thompson has been featured in newspapers such as The New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as on C-Span. Thompson also served as the served as the legislative director for the United States Student Association, which, according to the Alumni Association, is the country’s oldest and largest national student organization.
While working in the mayor’s executive office and remaining active in other youth-oriented programs, Thompson said she advocates for young leadership in universities.
“I am encouraging other young people to do something that I haven’t found the courage to do,” Thompson said. “I’m challenging them to go home and make a difference and it is time that I do the same.”
Thompson also said networking and relationship-building is an important factor for college-level leaders to start taking advantage of early.
“The first thing that I would say is just remember that there is a long history of people who are rooting for you that you have never met,” Thompson said. “It’s not just about the president of ASNMU but it goes for other folks who are involved.Remember that these people are all going places. Value that network.”
Current ASNMU president Amber Lopota said Thompson’s efforts towards moving into a political career as the potential state’s representative is a good example of past success in ASNMU.
“It’s a bright light, it’s a beacon,” Lopota said. “If I know there’s a state representative that was once in my shoes, I feel like it opens up the possibility for new ideas and I also feel like it raises the awareness of student government is college life.”
Thompson said her campaign will bring her back to Detroit, which is familiar territory for her as she continues forward towards her career in politics.
“I was raised here and so I have spent my career working to gain the experience to ultimately bring it back to Detroit,” Thompson said. “Coming back to Detroit was part of the plan all along but, within the last couple of months, it was the right time to be in this place and it was the right to district, seeing as I grew up in this neighborhood. Both things were aligned, which confirmed for me that it was time to do this.”
Lopota said the fact that an ASNMU and NMU alumni is running for a national political position is something the school and the organization should be proud of.
“I think that every representative can take note in really get an understanding of what ASNMU can do for them as far as their careers after graduation,” Lopota said. “I think its wonderful to hear that has a direct connection with NMU possibly gaining access to another area of politics.”
For more information about Thompson’s campaign, visit her campaign website at www.rebeccamthompson.com.