Harvard Leader of the Week

JcarrelThis week, we caught up with Jacob Carrel, president of the Harvard College Democrats and a Government concentrator living in Winthrop House. 

Why did you get involved with the Harvard College Democrats? 
I got involved in the Harvard College Democrats my freshman year, as a volunteer and the data captain for the Elizabeth Warren campus team. I get involved because I thought it was extremely important that this country moves in a progressive direction and I wanted to do anything I could to help that movement.

What is the most important thing you learned at Harvard?
I think that leadership can come in a lot of different ways, and that you never know where and how people are going to surprise you. I organized a field trip my freshman year for the students in a PBHA afterschool program to meet Gov. Deval Patrick, who I was sure would give them a lasting impression. When he left I was inspired, and so were the other adults in the room, but the young students’ favorite part was the swivel chairs they sat on. The fact that you can do something that you see as so meaningful and forget the very people who it’s designed to have an impact on has stuck with me, and that event always reminds me of limits on a given person’s abilities, especially my own.

Who inspires you?
As someone as passionate about education, and ensuring that everyone in this country receives a quality education, I’m inspired by teachers to teach every single day at schools that are underfunded; despite the fact that the teachers themselves are often derided by legislators as ineffective, they continue to teach each and every day because they’re it doing for students who need it the most.

Growing up, what was your dream job?
When I was 5, I wanted to be a fireman but was afraid of fire, so I decided that being a police officer was the next best thing. I made my own plastic badge and everything!

If you could have dinner with 5 people (living, dead or fictional) who would they be and why?
Franklin Roosevelt, because he made people reconsider communities and government; Barack Obama, because he took a stand and passed healthcare when every other president failed; Antonin Scalia, because despite having regressive political views, he tolerates views from the other side by having liberal clerks; Russ Feingold, because he challenged the country to pass the last major campaign finance reform act; and Richard Sherman, since he has challenged the NFL and forced me to consider the political implications of many things I previously saw as non-partisan and used to think were not particularly problematic. I’m not sure that everyone else at this dinner would necessarily get along, but oh well…

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