Upon meeting Erin Thesing and hearing about her many achievements and involvements, one would never guess that her political
interests came about only recently. During freshman year as Erin was having a difficult time finding a fit with her academic and social community, she could not foresee the path that she would soon construct. Though she was feeling somewhat lost,
she continued to try out different clubs and organizations on campus, with the encouragement of her then hall director, Leah Richards. Simultaneously, then-Senator Barack Obama came to UNH to announce that he would run for President of the United States. The speech that now-President Obama gave resonated with Erin, and in a way, saved her UNH experience.
Soon after President Obama’s speech, Erin joined the College Democrats and got involved with President Obama’s campaign. She spent a summer in Flint, Michigan working with Obama for America and decided to take the fall 2008 semester off to continue working in the city. She did take a break from Flint in August 2008, however, to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO as a delegate for her home state of New Hampshire. Upon her return to UNH, Erin became the President of the College Democrats. Through that role, Erin guided them in creating local change. Together they organized a campaign with the College Democrats to push for the passage of the New Hampshire Same Sex Marriage bill. They collected thousands of signatures in support of the bill and organized rallies at the State House. Erin also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committeeon behalf of the
Erin currently works for Organizing for America (OFA), the grassroots organization that works to continue the goals of President Obama’s presidential campaign. Most recently, she has been selected to serve on a national panel of experts that will choose the winning health care reform video in a contest sponsored by OFA this spring.
Erin’s experience at UNH is not all political. With a passion for sustainability, Erin was one of the First Energy Captains of the UNH Student Energy Waste Watch Challenge. The Waste Watch Challenge is a four-week competition between residence halls and on campus apartments, during which students work to reduce per capita energy and water use. Erin soon helped form and became the president of the
Ecological Advocates, the group that helps promote the Waste Watch Challenge. The Ecological Advocates also do other out- reach and advocacy work, including facilitating conservation on campus, and, through projects like UNH-RENU, helping recycled items make their way into the hands of those who need them.
Educational achievements are also part of Erin’s story. Erin has taken full advantage of the opportunities presented to her, such as being in the honors program, and making sure others have equal access to education. Erin has volunteered with refugee youth, and this experience led her to a year-long SURF-USA grant-sponsored project on social integration and identity shaping of adolescent
refugees in a small town New Hampshire high school.
Erin’s career aspirations revolve around creating positive change. She hopes to join Teach for America after graduating in May, 2010. Her long term goals include doing research to change policies in order to create more opportunity and equity in public education.
Erin started off at UNH as apolitical, and has transformed into someone who is dedicated to issues of social justice on the local, state and national level. When asked what advice she might have for other students, Erin said, “Don’t be afraid to go to the first meeting alone.” She has shown time and time again how students have the power to make real change. Erin’s story is packed with ambition and determination, and it is only just beginning.