Maya Humes '10

Maya Humes ’10 is the Press Secretary for NextGen America, a political action committee focused on mobilizing young voters ages 18 - 35 to cast their ballot for candidates who stand for their values.

How did you become interested in politics? 

I've always loved studying American government, history, and politics. Amstud, Global Studies, APUSH, you name it - those subjects were my absolute favorites at Marlborough. I loved how you could learn about the Jim Crow Era, WWII, and the Bill of Rights in one class.

When I got to college, American Studies quickly emerged as the major for me. It allowed me to take one class that focused only on the 1960s and another that dissected the evolution of African American vernacular English. Within American Studies, I decided to focus on Ethics and Politics in America.

A couple years after college, I realized I wanted to do more than read about politics obsessively. I needed to be immersed in it, to get on the front lines, and help shape the news myself. 

What political progress have you experienced with NextGen America?

Historically, young voters are relatively disengaged. NextGen America's goal is to engage and motivate young people to vote. In 2018, we saw a huge uptick in turnout! Nationwide, roughly 31% of youth turned out to vote, the highest level of participation amongst 18-29 year olds in at least 25 years. And in swing states like Pennsylvania, turnout increased from 21% in 2014 to 40% in 2018.

That's an unbelievable surge in only four years, and it's because young voters finally made their voices heard at the polls. I was so proud that we were able to elect more leaders who stand for our values and fight for the kind of future that we want to live in.

What is a challenge you've faced in politics?

In 2018, I moved to Florida with NextGen to work on the governor's race, U.S. Senate race, and three main congressional races. The five races we worked on were everything to me, but the one that we were most invested in was the governor's race. We knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors, sent almost a million texts, and pitched hundreds of news stories on our candidate.

Ultimately, he lost. And I was beyond devastated. You can five it all you have and still feel like you failed miserably. To do this work and stay sane, here's what you have to keep in mind: even if your candidate doesn't win that time, the minutes and hours you spent getting voters to the polls is going to pay off in the long run. You're increasing the overall number of lifelong voters who, together, can make the difference in the next election. 

How did your experience at Marlborough contribute to your involvement in politics? 

Marlborough made me incredibly confident and vocal. Maybe that had a little something to do with the lack of boys, but mostly it was because Marlborough encouraged me to speak up and speak out. Being outspoken was seen as an asset rather than a threat.

I was also heavily involved in student government at Marlborough. I think I ran every year! Student government is different from politics in many ways, but it's similar in others. Working to make my classmates happy shoed me firsthand how fulfilling it is to improve other people's experiences on a large scale. And since I had such an amazing student government experience in high school, I kept doing it - and loving it - in college. 

What advice do you have for a current student interested in pursuing work in politics or government?

Be very open about your interest in politics. Talk to ALL your friends and family about it. Chances are, one of them will be able to connect you to someone who's in the industry and can help you get your foot in the door. 

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