Youth Changemaker: Aditi Ghai

Aditi
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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

“Aditi has an undeniable gift for breaking down barriers to effective governance, as seen in both her incredible work spreading the ideal of “responsive government” through Generation Citizen, as well as her improvement of communication as a state-level student chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.”

 

-The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

A student at Harvard University, Aditi saw a common lack of civic engagement among her peers and felt it needed to be changed. Civics education was lacking the “do-now” aspect, connecting lessons to the legislation process. So she did something about it.

She started the University's chapter of Generation Citizen, an organization that teaches young people direct political action through curriculum and hands-on work with local leaders. The goal is to help young people become informed and active citizens who feel empowered to make change.

In her role as Executive Director of the Harvard chapter, Aditi pushed for the inclusion of democracy coaches and revamped lessons into classrooms to engage Harvard peers in political discourse and action. She has built connections with students and administrators at both Harvard and across several greater-Boston campuses, and has plans in place to continue strengthening those connections. Her work focuses on getting communities actively engaged in politics, no matter their party affiliations.

During the 2012 election, Aditi served as the Massachusetts Co-Chair of Students For Romney and eventually took on an even more demanding role: working full-time as Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Mitt and Ann Romney. She elected to take a semester off from school to fulfill her campaign responsibilities in the lead-up to the 2012 election.

"While we missed having her involvement at Generation Citizen during the fall of 2012, she was doing the incredibly important work of being a young person engaged in the political process," says Leila Quinn, Greater Boston Program Associate with Generation Citizen and a co-worker of Aditi's.

As the Massachusetts Co-Chair of Students for Romney, Aditi worked to organize and rally students across the state and New England. Her mission was to improve young voters' perceptions of the Republican party and the American political system at large—particularly in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

“It was incredible to see the political energy permeate from student volunteers to the surrounding community of voters,” Aditi says of the experience. “Enthusiastic student outreach almost always elicited an equally enthusiastic voter response confirming or challenging the student’s stated opinion. It made for very meaningful telephone and front-porch debates.”

As Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Mitt and Ann Romney, Aditi facilitated the personal affairs of Governor and Mrs. Romney so that they could appropriately concentrate on their political engagements.  

After working for the Romney campaign, Aditi wasn't done taking on large-scale politics: She next spent the spring of 2013 doing a Washington Semester working as a defense policy research analyst.

Back on Harvard's campus, Aditi has served as Vice President of the Harvard Republican Club, as an Institute of Politics liaison to former Presidential Speechwriter John McConnell and former Special Assistant to the President Ron Christie, and as a staff writer on the Harvard Political Review.  She also works as a Peer Concentration Counselor for the university's Department of Government, where she fields students' questions about political engagement and aids in their searches for internship opportunities to help them pursue their interest.

"I am excited for Aditi to further Generation Citizen's work on campus because she can help inspire the youth participating in our programs to create lasting, systemic change by doing effective action projects as well as recruiting more college students to work with even more youth, thereby multiplying our effect," says Quinn, who nominated her for recognition as a Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemaker.  "She will surely be a strong woman in politics throughout her entire life."

For Aditi, youth input is an important part of effective governing.  “I feel privileged to be named a Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemaker," she says, "and hope that I can simulate the political safe-space that the Presidential Youth Council promises in my community and on my campus.”

“While the stated purpose of Presidential Youth Council is to channel youth perspectives into affecting changing on the national stage, it’s equally important that the Council bring together a group of young political aficionados who can challenge and build on one other to become stronger, clearer, and more impassioned voices of political organization and action. It can and should function as much as an agent of change as it does a political incubator and safe-space.”
 


This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors. Read about the selection process.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so submit one of your own!