Boston-area Students Juggle School, Work, Political Campaigning
By Meaghan Kilroy
Boston University News Service
BOSTON — In 2008, Scott Eranio, an 18-year-old South Easton high school student, cast his presidential ballot for then Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
“I didn’t know why I voted for Obama,” said Eranio. “I wasn’t interested [in politics].”
Fast-forward four years.
Eranio studies political science and economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston. This summer he participated in the Obama campaign’s Fellowship Program because he felt a need to do something, he said.
Eranio said living in Massachusetts has given him the unique opportunity to witness the politics of Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts, up close.
With insight on Romney’s role as a leader, Eranio chose to endorse Obama instead, he said.
As one of Obama’s summer fellows, Eranio was responsible for coordinating campaign activities in the Roxbury/Mission Hill area from June through August.
Eranio said he spent approximately 15 hours each week canvassing, setting up phone interviews and hosting door-knocking trips to New Hampshire, a swing state in the election.
Completing 15 hours of campaign work each week wasn’t an easy task, said Eranio.
He also manages a small restaurant in Easton and said he found it hard to do both jobs.
“Some weeks I wasn’t able to campaign as much,” said Eranio. “For the trips to New Hampshire, you had to take a whole Saturday off … it took a lot of time.”
That’s a feeling Sophie Miller said she knows well. This campaign season the Boston University junior split her time serving as a communications intern for the Scott Brown campaign, a chairwoman for the Students for Scott Brown Coalition, the president of BU College Republicans and the secretary of the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans.
“It’s a big time commitment,” said Miller. “I’ve had to make some sacrifices.”
Although campaigning has not left her with as much time to complete her schoolwork as she would like, Miller said the commitment is one worth making.
“It’s an unparalleled opportunity to be involved [in politics],” said Miller.
An opportunity that many college students, not just Miller and Eranio, seem to have taken advantage of.
Eranio said the majority of Obama fellows this summer were university students passionate about the issues Obama supports.
“We were in a room, and we were asked why were involved [with the Obama campaign]. Some were for the LGBT movement. Some were for the international immigration policies,” said Eranio. “There were various reasons.”
While Eranio and Miller have been immersed in politics, neither could speculate on whether that will continue in the future.
“Right now my focus is completely on the election,” said Miller. “I am not quite sure what the future will hold.”
Eranio said he might consider picking up another campaign in the future.
“I’ll see where I am in life,” he said.