My name is Jenna Carmichael. I am interning with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence this summer before returning to my senior year of high school. As a young woman interested in issue advocacy work and organizing, I was inspired by this week’s primary results that came out of New York’s 14th congressional district. The sitting incumbent congressman, Joe Crowley, was defeated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio-Cortez, a 27 year old, latinx woman, former waitress, Bernie delegate and grassroots organizer. Her victory means so much to me and so much to the future direction of this country.

Like so many other high school students, I was inspired by the student activists that rose out of Parkland. These students, like Emma Gonzales, whose words “I call BS!” on the NRA, and the politicians who have been around for decades without being truly representative of their districts. This progressive wave is beginning to changing the face of American politics for the better. Because of the words of Gonzales, and because of the victory of strong, progressive, and diverse candidates like Ocasio-Cortez I have faith that I can create real change as an organizer today, and keep building on that into the future. I also have faith that real change could come to Rhode Island sooner rather than later.

This summer, I will be working with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence on a youth power-based campaign that models that momentum created by March for Our Lives organizers. I hope to work to support candidates who, like Ocasio-Cortez, will uplift working and marginalized people and support economic and environmental justice issues, issues that will prevent violence, and women’s reproductive health care issues. I also look to support candidates like Ocasio-Cortez who understand that gun violence is not just an isolated issue, it is an issue that is a piece of so many different aspects of life. When candidate’s like these continue to succeed, young women like me are affirmed in our organizing and our advocacy, and our future.