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Univ. sophomore spends spring with Obama camp

Sophomore Elyse Faulk pulls down a heavy ethnic studies book from the dorm room bookshelves lined up above her head. An orange Bowling Green Marching Band shirt lies on the futon, and a shiny brass saxophone is propped in the corner. Memorabilia from her sorority, Tau Beta Sigma, is scattered throughout her side of the room.

At first glance, Faulk appears to be like every other college student living on her floor. But upon closer examination, one would find that Faulk has dedicated her life to more than just routine college activities.

Starting at the beginning of this year, Faulk began campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama and joined his Web site.

As she became more involved with the campaign and the Web site, she began to be noticed by administrators and extensive volunteers in charge, which eventually led her to a number of incredible opportunities, she said.

‘I became part of the Barack Obama group on campus, and someone from the Web site ended up calling and looking for interns,’ she said. ‘I was selected to intern for a month, but to be honest, it was just pure luck that I was chosen.”

Along with a number of other activities, she routinely passed out absentee ballots in the Union and canvassed both Bowling Green and Toledo as an intern, which included going to democratic households and giving voters a list of early polling stations.

As she became more involved, Faulk began to reach outside of her immediate community in an effort to spread Obama’s message.

During an Obama rally in Toledo, Faulk was given the responsibility of managing the VIP section directly behind the podium where Barack would be speaking. The section was made up of Union workers and special guests who were deemed important to the campaign, she said.

‘The more and more I became involved, the more dedicated I became,’ Faulk said. ‘I put my heart into the campaign so quickly, and all I ever wanted to do was be at headquarters.’

As Ohio’s primary got closer, Faulk became even more involved with the Obama campaign.

From Sunday to Tuesday night before the election, Faulk stayed with a foster home in Toledo that housed her during the three pivotal days.

During the night of the primary, Faulk and a group of other volunteers went back to the Toledo houses that they had originally canvassed in order to make sure that the residents had voted. If they had not, Faulk and the others offered to take them to polling stations nearby.

‘We had one man who was handicapped and unable to get to the stations,’ she said. ‘We ended up driving him there that night, and it might not seem like much, but every vote does make a difference.’

And though the volunteers and interns did make a difference during the days and nights leading up to the election results, Obama ended up losing the state of Ohio to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

‘When I heard the results, I started to cry because I really thought he was going to win,’ Faulk said.

However, her drive to get Obama in the White House didn’t stop after his loss to Clinton.

Due to her involvement over the previous months, Faulk was asked to go to Pennsylvania for a week in order to campaign before the state’s primary.

But because of her busy schedule and commitment to her schoolwork, Faulk turned down the offer after days of debating the pros and cons.’ ‘

‘I so badly wanted to go, but I knew that it was unwise,’ she said. ‘I just figured I’d keep up the campaigning here and hopefully that would make the difference.’

For Faulk’s roommate Kaitlyn Ackerman, the amount of time and energy that Faulk puts into politics more than makes up for her decision to stay in Ohio.

‘She is just so passionate about politics, and she influences whoever is around her,’ Ackerman said. ‘I know that before rooming with Elyse I was never as politically involved as I am now – she’s opened my eyes [concerning politics] to more than they were in the past.’

Although Ackerman said politics have been a part of Faulk’s life since they met, the sense of political awareness that Faulk has actually stems as far back to when she was 5 years old.’

Faulk’s father, Dave, said they used to watch the elections on TV together when she was just a little girl.

‘We would stay up late on the weekends and watch the polls and results come in,’ Dave Faulk said. ‘She was always an extremely bright girl, but she started understanding the process more as she got older and she just fell in love with it.’

In fact, Faulk became actively involved with campaigns much earlier than college, Dave said. During her senior year of high school, she became a member of the Tiger Democrats and participated in a number of programs that centered on the poor and needy.

And though Dave identifies himself as a Republican, he is still proud that his daughter has made such a difference through the Democratic Party.

‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her in the White House in a few years,’ Faulk said. ‘She’s the type of girl where the bigger the challenge, the more accomplished she’ll get.’

And though she still has a long way to go, Faulk hopes that all the experience and memories she has gained over the past few years will help her after college.

‘At the end of the day, I won’t lie and say that I don’t feel stressed out and I just want to stop doing everything I do,’ Faulk said. ‘But you just have to smile and remember it’s all worth it in the end.”

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