An Accelerated Path to Political Involvement

College of Arts & Sciences Commencement student speaker Maggie Randall on stepping outside her comfort zone

“Don’t let self-doubt get in the way of anything you want to do. You can spin more plates than you think you can.”

That’s Maggie Randall’s advice to the next wave of Suffolk students as she finishes her accelerated BS/MA degree in political science and government and prepares to address her class as the 2019 College of Arts & Sciences Commencement student speaker. 

They are words Randall has lived by in her four years at Suffolk, packing in as many experiences as possible—writing a political column for The Suffolk Journal newspaper, reinvigorating the Suffolk College Democrats, and leading an Alternative Spring Break trip to build Habitat for Humanity homes in South Bend, Indiana, are among her many accomplishments. 

But while she entered college with a passion for civic engagement instilled by her parents and credits earned through her high school International Baccalaureate program that enabled her to finish her accelerated degree a year early, Randall says it was her time at Suffolk that gave her the confidence to push herself farther. 

“I did The Washington Center program in 2017 and attended Trump’s inauguration,” she says. “It was a huge step outside my comfort zone. Something feels institutionally wrong when a candidate who lost the popular vote can be elected. It made me more motivated to work on public policy, especially voting rights and voter access.”

Randall jumped at opportunities to get involved. It wasn’t hard to find them from her campus vantage point. 

 
“You can study political science at other schools, but it’s not the same as being right in the thick of it on Beacon Hill.”
Maggie Randall Class of 2019

An internship as a Massachusetts State Senate Page gave Randall a behind-the-scenes look at how government really works. “A lot of the procedural things we think ‘just happen’ are actually done by college students,” she says, recalling one memorable night at the end of the regular legislative session.

“The legislators were trying to get as much as possible done before the session ended, so there I was closing in on midnight literally running a parchment with vote tallies from the House of Representatives to the Senate before the clock ran out,” says Randall. 

That experience and a policy internship on Capitol Hill paved the way for Randall’s current position as an office administrator in the office of Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka. She took on the role full-time when she completed the undergraduate portion of her degree last May and found herself managing Suffolk interns. It’s a full-circle experience for Randall, who counts many Suffolk alumni among her State House mentors and colleagues. 

She’s still pushing herself outside her comfort zone and credits a required first-year public speaking course with giving her the tools to address her class as commencement speaker. On the morning of her commencement speech sound check, Randall will be running for re-election as a Massachusetts Democratic Convention delegate in her hometown of Bourne, proving she can still “spin a lot of plates” at once.

Her plans for the future also are growing in scope. 

“My goal is to run for office one day. If you told me that three years ago, I would have said I wasn’t interested in putting myself out there in the spotlight, but now I know it’s not about that. It’s about making policies that make communities better.”

 

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Greg Gatlin
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