Presidential race inspires student to go the distance

Sharon Kelly ’04 smiles when she recalls meeting a teenage girl who’d asked her mother for a birthday present: to drive her hours and hours across the plains of Iowa to a town hall meeting of a presidential candidate.

That’s why Kelly’s still an idealist when it comes to the sometimes rough-and-tumble world of politics. The people in it, she says, are committed and the best kind of co-workers to have, and they inspired her to travel more than 1,000 miles away from campus to work on behalf of the Howard Dean campaign during the Iowa caucus season.

One of many HLS students who put in the hours to support their candidate, Kelly worked on Dean’s advance team, ensuring that sites the former Vermont governor visited were photogenic for the TV cameras and trouble-free. She played a similar role for the Bill Bradley campaign in New Hampshire and elsewhere four years ago. And, though neither candidate won, she doesn’t regret the experiences. She endured 14-hour days, illness, bad food and long car drives, but what she’ll remember are the people whose passion for her candidate brought them into the political process.

“I’ve never seen anything like Iowa, with the amount of people who seemed to have left their jobs or left school to come out and volunteer,” Kelly said. “You’d hear stories all the time about a family coming from Georgia, and their car broke down, and they bought a new car and kept going.”

She’d work for a campaign again. But next time, she hopes, she’ll get to use her law degree too.