I admit that I was one of the many college students who saw the green voting signs that read Kesha Ram and immediately thought of the blonde, hot mess, Jack Daniel swigging, sounds terrible without auto-tune singer Ke$sha that we all know and love. Folks, I’m sure you can guess that Kesha Ram, who went on to become the youngest state legislator, is a bit more talented than our much beloved party anthem singer.
A California native of Jewish and Indian decent, Kesha was taught by her parents at a young age to embrace diversity, give back to the community, and be a determined individual. While she was a student at UVM, Kesha was voted in as a State Rep. in 2008. She also was the president of the UVM student population, majored in Natural Resource Planning and Poli Sci, and graduated magna cum laude; and she is still such a humble person!
A few weeks ago she came to speak in Perry Hall to my class, encouraging us to ask questions and “knock down doors.” Kesha is known for going to the houses of people she represents (anyone on the other side of Main Street Burlington), sitting in their living rooms, and talking to them about their needs, frustrations, and desires. She is a person college students can feel comfortable talking too, and she noted that although make up a large percentage of the country, we are so hugely under represented. Despite being of color, and a democrat, she was able to forge connections with older, republican members of the community who might have come from a time and place when diversity was not exactly an encourage concept. But don’t get me wrong, she is way more than “the” female of color serving office.
So why is this important? Well, the other night I was at the CCM Excellence Award Ceremony and had the chance to be surrounded by lots of motivated men and women. Kesha too started off as a highly motivated college student who looked around her community and saw that things could be altered. She wasn’t that different from many of us. So I challenge all of us, whether you were at the dinner or not, to start making a difference. Start making changes on a community and town level where you will be able to better connect with the people and interact with them. Work to better the environment, improve school quality, encourage sexual awareness, anything. We are still considered “kids” is so many people’s eyes. Show them otherwise. Show people we are young, motivated, and won’t be complacent with the way things are going. Show them we aren’t generation “lazy” and aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty.