The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Anya Belomoina

Junior Jessica Li grew up with role models like Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state. This helped shape her beliefs and drove her passion for politics.

Jessica Li

Junior Jessica Li has been interested in social justice since middle school and has explored many different possible career options surrounding this topic. She has considered careers involving international diplomacy or immigration and human rights law. Currently, Li is interested in exploring politics.

“Now I’m not too sure, to be honest, and I’m kind of okay with that. I just know I’m really interested in politics,” said Li.

Li said her parents wanted her to go into either the science or medical fields, but from an early age, she felt pulled towards activism. After reading a biography in eighth grade on Madeleine Albright, the first female secretary of state, she became interested in doing international work.

“Freshman and sophomore year, I kind of got lost, and I feel like a lot of people do. You kind of start to question yourself and ask, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’” Li stated. She then began reading political news and analysis in her freetime, as well as watching political update videos.

“I think I’ve started to form my own opinions based on my values and morals, which is good, but there’s still a lot I don’t know. I’m getting more hesitant about some of my opinions because I’m realizing there’s so many aspects of [politics] I still don’t understand,” said Li.

Another role model that has inspired Li’s political career is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest-elected congresswoman (at 29 years of age) in the House of Representatives’ history. Earlier this year, she won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th District with no lobbyist money and ran on an extremely progressive platform.

“Everybody’s always told me that if you want to go into politics, you can’t be a good person. You have to know how to play the game, you can’t be too nice, you have to lose some of your morals to further yourself. But seeing someone like [Ocasio-Cortez], she’s what I would want to be if I were to run or do anything in an elected position,” expressed Li. She added that it was inspiring to see Ocasio-Cortez win the election and Li now believes that she would be able to run in a political campaign.

Over the summer, Li did an internship with the Illinois 10th Congressional District Democrats.

“We did campaigning for local government positions and some statewide [positions]. That was a good experience because I got more invested in local politics and how that impacts us more so than federal politics do,” explained Li.

Li mentioned that her parents wanted her to either get a job or complete an internship, so after seeing that a College Resource Center posting about the internship, she decided to apply.

“[The internship] was really cool; I got to talk to a lot of different people. The ages ranged from sophomores in high school to kids in law school, so it was really cool. I got to meet so many people, I got to see how campaigns worked. Because the internship was close to the midterms, I definitely got a lot of exposure towards campaigning,” said Li.

Li explained that she gained experience by doing things like phone banking, a campaign strategy to collect voter data, and going door-to-door.

“That definitely builds up confidence because a lot of people hang up on you! Especially in some areas, they can be really mean. Because of this, I learned a lot about communication,” expressed Li.

During the internship, Li was exposed to a lot of issues that she hadn’t thought about before.

“I think that a lot of my political beliefs are shaped by my experiences, and I’m very lucky to live in an area like Libertyville and [to] not have to face economic hardships. A lot of those things I’ve never been personally impacted by, so I don’t have as much of an opinion,” stated Li.

According to Li, health care is a big issue that she wasn’t aware about the severity of before her internship. “Through the internship, I started to understand about how important [health care] was, and not just in our community, but across the nation,” Li commented.

“Politics affects everybody. If you’re in a position where you don’t have to care about politics and your life will be fine, you have to recognize the privilege. Privilege seems like such a bad word, but it’s not ignoring any hardships you’ve had to go through; it’s more so [ignoring] things you haven’t had to go through,” Li explained. She went on to say that with privilege also comes responsibility. This responsibility, according to Li, is the reason why she is so involved in politics.

“Everybody has different experiences, and everybody is personally affected in a different way, and you can’t just consider yourself in the policies you support, you have to consider the population as a whole,” stated Li.

Li’s passion for politics revolves around the betterment of the American population, especially the future generations of the country. Her hope is to ensure a good future for herself and her peers by remaining informed on political issues and keeping a bipartisan outlook.


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