Some people are politically active, but for junior public relations major Lauren Bacon, politics is more than just a job — it’s her passion.
“I’ve really felt, in this past year, just a pull towards more political issues, especially local issues,” Bacon said. “[I] just had the realization that all change starts local.”
When Bacon received an email about an internship opportunity in the Peoria area, she said it only took her 15 minutes to send her information in. She said she wanted to be involved more in the Peoria community and local elections.
Bacon added a political science minor last semester and saw this as an opportunity to go after something she had her eye on.
“I’ve always had an interest in politics, but never thought about pursuing it until last year with the amount of local and national issues that are so prevalent,” Bacon said. “I really felt a drive to make a difference, to make my voice heard and to engage others and make their voices heard.”
Bacon is a campus field organizer for Peoria Council Candidate, Peter Kobak. Her job is to encourage students to register to vote and be involved in local politics, if possible.
The public relations major program has student work for non-profits, including Bacon, and public relations adviser and professor, Rachelle Pavelko sees it as a fit for her.
“Lauren is a natural at that, and it’s evident in her about the internship with Peter and the work that she’s getting to do with recruiting students on campus,“ Pavelko said. “I know that she’s looking forward to putting some of her strategic communication skills to work in terms of scheduling events and getting the word out to different students on different platforms.”
Pavelko said it’s not only great to see her students be successful but to also find their drive in their work, as Bacon is finding the intersection between her major and her political science minor.
Pavelko said an internship like Bacon’s requires communication and an ability to draw people to the cause of the campaign.
“Any conversation she has, she’s so positive and bubbly,” Pavelko said. “You immediately feel her level of comfort talking about the issues in the campaign and why she supports these causes, and I think that’s so easy to rub off on other people and get them interested.”
In class, Pavelko said Bacon’s blog writing assignments showed her passion and that she easily connects to readers.
Despite easily making conversation, Bacon never had experience in a political internship. That, however, doesn’t seem to bother her as she actively goes out of her comfort zone.
“Spreading the word about local elections, especially, I feel I’ve really found a passion in that that I never really thought I had in me before,” Bacon said. “Throughout this whole internship experience, my passion has been deepened.”
The work that Bacon does is mostly virtual, but she hopes to be in-person later in the semester. She has reached out to students through email or social media as well as canvassing and phone banking with the campaign.
Bacon wants the youth and the community to know that they can use their vote to put new leaders in office.
“It’s just been very empowering to actually engage the people in this city,” Bacon said. “In the last election here, there was a 10.4 percent turnout rate … which is everywhere as well. … They determine so much, whether it be property taxes or safety.”
Bacon is planning a carpool to polling locations on April 6 to get Bradley students to vote for the general election.