By Ashley Thomas
Congressman Rush Holt’s legislative assistant visited the College on Wednesday, Oct. 24 to talk with Bonner students about politics, his work in the government, and how they can get involved. Andrew Black, a College alumnus, stressed the importance of service, internships and being active for a cause.
Black opened up with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson and continued to tuck in quotes on service for the duration of the speech.
“We live in a generation where service is easy. It has been presented to us and served on a silver platter,” Black said. He continued by encouraging students to get involved and said that they could make a difference. He invited students to “find an issue you care about, get other people to care about it, and light a fire.”
Similarly, Black encouraged students to mobilize people and to use social media for common good. He described the impact of SOPA, the issue with Internet piracy, and how it became a movement with many youth involved.
“The same thing that happened with SOPA can happen for any issue,” said Black. “It’s there. The seeds have been planted. It’s up to you guys to do something about it.”
Likewise, Black stressed the importance of constituent service as an individual and as an aide to a member of Congress. According to Black, constituent service is often overlooked, but has a greater impact in terms of helping people.
“When you think about public service, it is not all about writing the laws,” Black said.
In addition, the legislative assistant talked about the stigma the government holds today. He mentioned a data poll that asked, “Do you like the government?” Only 16 percent said yes.
“How do you be a leader in a cause you try to advocate in when no one likes you? It’s a challenge,” he said.
Black acknowledged how the government tries to help its citizens and how students today can help as well. He realized it is a working progress, but that it can be done.
The College alum graduated with B.A. in sociology, an urban studies concentration, and a political science minor. He first began working for Holt as a high school intern in 2003. “I was bitten by a public service bug at a young age,” Black said. His drive to work in this field came from interning and seeing the real positive outcomes that the government could have on individual people.
Black is currently working in Holt’s office in Washington, D.C. as the policy advisor for Immigration issues and administration aspects of the Washington office.