There’s No Policy Like Public Policy: My Journey into Politics

Honors student Cathleen Daly

If you had told me my freshman year at Grand Canyon University that I would have a passion for politics, I probably would have said something along the lines of, “You’re funny. The only things I know about politics are some of the names of past presidents and who the current President of the United States is.”

Now let’s look at my life now: I’m in my last semester here at GCU. I have now worked as a field organizer for Senator John McCain’s Senate re-election campaign, interned at the Arizona State Legislature and, most recently, attended the National Conference of State Legislatures in Boston. In addition, I now have a goal of running for Congress in 10 years.

So how does one make a flip from knowing nothing about politics to wanting to be in politics? It’s as simple of an answer as saying, “That’s just how God works” while simultaneously saying, “It’s really complicated. It’s taken a lot of work and hours to get to where I am today and all of this could ONLY happen because that is how God works.”

I believe it starts with noticing the opportunities around you, following up on those opportunities that are presented to you and then deciding to choose to do that something that might not be your first passion but can still be beneficial to learning. Then just trusting God to take care of the rest.

When I was presented the opportunity to work for Sen. McCain, I took it because I thought it would be a good experience and seemed like fun – which it was. But what it became was so much more than that. I was given a crash course on grassroots campaigning, taught how to engage with the community in a way that communicated the message of the McCain campaign and given valuable leadership skills where I managed my own team of interns. After that, I assumed my work in politics would be over. Then, the Honors College sent me information to apply for an internship with the Arizona State Legislature. I decided to put my all into the application because I had nothing to lose.

And I did have nothing to lose. But what I gained was what truly changed my ideas of what my career path might look like. I spent a full semester immersed in the works of local government at the Arizona State Legislature. I learned everything from drafting a bill to developing strategies to further engage the community on social media. It was there that I realized that I wanted to not just dabble in politics for the fun of it or to help pay for school, but rather because I could really make an impactful difference in communities through it. I saw how I could be a voice for the unheard and bring their concerns to the forefront. Thus began my 10-year plan to run for Congress.

After the internship was over, I was given an incredible opportunity to represent the Honors College and GCU Alpha Chi at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Boston. NCSL is an annual legislative conference that brings together legislators, policymakers, staff members and lobbyists from across the nation to discuss issues happening in the U.S. and how each state is working on these issues. While there, I networked with these professionals, delved further into topics that had caught my interest while working at the Arizona State Legislature and solidified my desire to work in public service someday.

With the network I have built and the experience I have gained so far, I am excited to see how this path will continue. I will take notice and take advantage of the opportunities that will prepare me to pursue this dream.

Nowadays, I’ve learned to trust God to provide the path and the opportunities to get where I am going. I’ve learned to take full advantage of the tools, resources and mentorships that GCU honors provides for their students. But most importantly, I’ve learned that your passions have a purpose and they will get directed in the neatest of ways if you give those passions to God.

The Honors College can help bright, ambitious students find their purpose and pursue unique opportunities. Learn more by visiting our website or contacting us using the Request More Information button.

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