By: Daniela Franco
Megan Powers is not your traditional college student. She split her time growing up between the Virginia suburbs of DC and Heidelberg, Germany. She is also a junior building her own major at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, concentrating in political strategy, law, marketing and branding. And she is a Republican at one of the most Democratic schools in the country.
But Powers hasn’t always identified as a Republican. Powers grew up in a military home where her parents and brothers were Republicans. Shortly after arriving to NYU, Powers decided to challenge her parents’ political ideology and joined both College Republicans and College Democrats. She figured she would just stay in whichever she had more friends but she explains the connection to College Republicans as a love-hate relationship: “Even though I kind of hated it, I was married to it forever.” And so her journey as a college Republican began.
Powers has since then become Vice President of the College Republicans and she was recently honored with the 2014 President’s Service Award for dedication to leadership and community building at NYU, from her work as president of the NYU chapter of the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha. Powers describes the environment at NYU as accepting and welcoming to all, saying that no one has ever judged her and she has never had issues expressing her personal opinions. Except for one class.
Powers was taking a class about Occupy Wall Street and says that the professor was “negative in receiving me.” Her professor wanted her to participate in favor of the Occupy Wall Street movement that went against her beliefs, but would receive a failing grade if she did not attend. In the end, Powers reached out to an administrative staff member in order for her grades to not be jeopardized by her beliefs. Other than that bad experience, Powers enjoys “sitting in classes about things I simply don’t know.”
Powers also describes her experience with Democrats as one of mutual respect. The College Republicans and Democrats both have the same challenges in attendance. During election years, attendance spikes but slowly dips shortly after elections are over. But they work together to keep things interesting for their members. The clubs host biannual debates where they touch upon issues such as gun control and immigration, among many others.
It should be pointed out, Powers is in no way defined by her political affiliation. She is open to ideas concerning all types of issues, including immigration and abortion. “I don’t think anyone has had the best idea yet,” she says, “You learn a lot more from people when you are willing to admit you are not right.” Powers may be a registered Republican but admits there are issues with which she identifies as more liberal than conservative, and that is impressive on its own.
Just because Powers goes to NYU, a school filled with mostly Democrats, she didn’t let that stop her from going after what she wanted. As a rising senior, she is already thinking about what will happen next in her career. This summer she plans to go to Washington, DC, to work for the Republican National Committee in the Office of Chairman Reince Preibus. She would like to work in national or state politics as a political strategist and campaign consultant, and later go into politics herself.
Powers understands the importance of utilizing everyone’s knowledge to enrich her own and says that “Lack of understating comes from lack of experience”. It is her thirst for knowledge and ideas that make her someone to look out for in the future of politics.