As a rising junior, Jessie Gorovitz has made a splash on her campus and beyond as a dedicated activist and advocate for women in politics. She’s the youngest member of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus and is devoted to encouraging young women to raise their voices and be involved in government—even if it means organizing political discussions with incentives such as donuts and movie nights.
Jessie is already on her way to smashing the patriarchy—and we have a strong suspicion that she’ll make some amazing strides toward that goal (and much more).
College: Kenyon College
Expected Graduation: Spring 2019
What drives your passion for politics, activism and social movements?
For much of my childhood, I was badly bullied. It got to the point where I felt so alone that my existence didn’t seem to matter. I know what it’s like to feel like there is no one in your corner: Like there is no one fighting for you, like you have no voice. As I’ve grown older, I’ve met so many people who have felt the same way. Whether it’s because they were bullied or were struggling to survive in a system rigged against them, many Americans today feel abandoned. I’ve been there.
When the people who are supposed to fight for you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, you can’t help but resent them. I understand. No one deserves to feel that way. When your government abandons you, why should you feel grateful? I am passionate about politics, activism and social movements because I have seen in my own life the difference one open heart and one fierce advocate can make.
All Americans deserve a fierce advocate—someone who isn’t afraid to stand up to bullies or fight a system that is rigged against those at the bottom. I want them to know that someone cares, someone is fighting for them, and for a better future for their kids. Because everyone deserves that.
What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Despite having dyslexia and ADD, while engaging in my studies, I have been a campus organizer and have done additional work for the Ohio Democratic Party. I know what it’s like to feel like a failure every day in a system that is rigged against you. It’s like running in a race while everyone is running on a flat track, but you have to run up a hill pushing a boulder. It seems like an impossible feat. But along the way, I have had the opportunity to reach back and help others with their boulders.
My biggest achievement is helping others in their own race. Whether it’s the nearly 1,500 voters I’ve registered, or the 197 volunteers I recruited and worked with on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, I’ve empowered them to realize their voice matters and that they have the power to make a difference.
As the youngest member of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus, what have you learned about getting young women—especially other college students—involved in politics?
One thing I learned from my work at the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus is that you need to meet people where they are to get them involved. Organizing women on college campuses will look different from organizing other demographics of women.
On college campuses, organizing policy discussions with movie nights and donuts are a great way to get students involved. Students are not always inclined to commit extra time outside of their academic studies to any type of advocacy and campaign work, but if you frame it as a fun conversation with your friends and free donuts, young women will be more receptive.
Who in your life most inspires you?
My parents taught me that, as we move through life, each of us is trying to make a better future for our children. And, although we have different views about how best to get there, in the end, we all want the same thing. This idea is at the center of my world view. I care about organizing because it is a key way to help people create a better future for their families. My mom and dad are the most inspiring figures in my life because of their dedication to justice and the pursuit of a better future for all families, not just our own. They inspire me to be the best version of myself and to dedicate my life to helping others create a better future for themselves and their families.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a college activist and organizer?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as an organizer is the concept of “passive liberalism,” which is the idea that young progressives have a lot of expectations about how the world should work and are frustrated that it doesn’t work that way—but they don’t take any steps to enact change. I get that. Activism takes up a lot of emotional energy, and young people are often unaware of where to go or what to do to get started.
I think most young people care a great deal about a lot of things. If you provide people with opportunities to get involved in issues they care about, they usually want to participate. When provided with small goals and a community, young people are more likely to get involved. It makes the daunting task of changing the world seem more manageable and more fun.
What’s your advice for other collegiettes who have big dreams for the future?
No matter how many times you get knocked down, get right back up. Learning how to deal with failure and having a flexible path is essential for achieving your dreams. It’s also important to do things because you genuinely care about them, not because you think it will look good on your resume. If you’re passionate about your work, that shows and you often get rewarded for it. But if you’re doing something just because you think it’ll look good on your resume, you shouldn’t do it. People can tell, and it will reflect poorly on you.
What are your top goals and priorities post-graduation?
I want to use my political organizational skills to help bring about positive change in underrepresented communities. I’m an economics major, and one of the things I’m most passionate about is economic development, which is providing jobs and opportunity to underserved communities.
One of my goals is to help create jobs in parts of America that have been left behind by the changing nature of the economy. It’s important to me that all Americans feel like they have someone in their corner. Right now, that means fighting to bring good jobs to my community in Ohio. But one day, I hope to have the privilege to effect change at the national level.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Passionate, understanding, curious, motivated, and a unifier.