At a coffee shop in Columbus, Ohio, a young man ordered a mystical mind mango smoothie. Clad in a long black wool overcoat, mint green collared shirt and white tie, he introduced himself with a nervous laugh.
“I’ve never been interviewed before,” said Shekar Jayaraman, 21, a delegate for Hillary Clinton in Ohio. “I wasn’t sure how to prepare.”
Born to immigrants from India, Jayaraman spoke like an old political professional about his interest in civil rights and his desire to be a public servant. A senior at The Ohio State University in Columbus, who double majored in political science and international studies, he commuted two hours home to Cincinnati on weekends to campaign for delegate, a task he said he took seriously.
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Jayaraman explained that he sent out 500 form letters, followed them up with phone calls, followed those up with fliers and then called everyone again. He spent at the most $300 dollars and his parents helped out, he said.
“It’s a different route from what they took,” said Jayaraman, whose father has a PhD in material science and his mother has one in education. “They are very involved and they are very happy about it.”
Jayaraman believes that a public servant should inform the community on the democratic process and engage them in government. He said that in the area where he serves, from Cincinnati to Appalachia, the demographic does not usually participate in caucuses so he made sure to explain “to the tee” exactly what he would do. He wanted to make sure that his community learned how to get involved in the presidential campaign, but also grassroots activism.
“Being from Ohio is my passion,” said Jayaraman. “It always has been my passion so really I want to give back to the state as much as I can.”