Rodman (l) with first volunteer of the month, Shaily Pal.

photo courtesy Students for Debra

For most people, their political mark on the world does not start until the day they turn 18 and can legally vote, but this was not the case for one group of students.

Godwin sophomore Elina Rastegar, along with high school students across the country, has begun her political career early on.

“I first found out about he program through a friend who was also involved,” said Rastegar.

 As a part of the Students for Debra program, Rastegar has the opportunity to participate in political campaigns for local senators, as well as recruiting other interested students and assisting the campaign field organizers.

Rastegar is one of eight student leaders and over 100 student volunteers that work with the program in various capacities. 

The program provides a way for students to be involved in local politics and to learn the impact they can have on their community well before the legal voting age.

The program was started locally by Freeman High School senior Salaar Khan.

Khan started as an intern under Ilana Beller, the field manager for Debra Rodman’s senate campaign.

It was Khan’s proposal to Beller for a high school involvement program to assist the campaign that set Students for Debra on its track.

Students for Debra is a high school program that gets 9-12th  graders from high schools across the county involved with the state senate campaigns of candidates Debra Rodman, Schuyler VanValkenburg, and Rodney Willett.

Student leaders and volunteers either go door-to-door or make phone calls in an attempt  to persuade people to vote for the program’s candidates.

The students also hold meet and greets  where people can come and learn more about the candidates and their campaign.

Recently, Rastegar participated in an appreciation event for the high school program. All of the political candidates attended and recognized their first volunteer of the month, Godwin sophomore Shaily Pal.

Students for Debra is not a program exclusively for those  who are interested in political careers. It was founded for any student that cares about making a difference  within his or her community.

“The program gives students who aren’t yet able to vote an opportunity to be able to make a difference in their community,” said Rastegar.

Through the Students for Debra program, high schoolers are able to clearly see the potential impact that can make on their community through involvement in politics and the importance of their voice and their vote.


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