As members walk into a Roosevelt Institute meeting, they are often greeted with a calm but friendly “hello” that reveals a slight Austrian accent. The welcome comes from the co-president of the Roosevelt Institute’s NYU chapter, Evelyn Seidler, who is likely getting ready to start the meeting, Starbucks in hand.
Since her time as a high school student in Vienna, Seidler has known she wanted to pursue politics. To her, politics are what shapes the world in which we live.
“I wanted to do politics because I saw that it has an influence and impact in everyone’s life,” Seidler said. “For the most basic things even, freedom of speech, whether or not we can go to college, whether people are forced to work — it’s all the result of political movements.”
This belief led her to become interested in public policy. Even after spending her freshman year in Paris and knowing no one when she first came to NYU’s Washington Square campus the following year, Seidler immediately began her involvement with the Roosevelt Institute at NYU, a center dedicated to teaching students about working in public policy. With this group, she quickly learned how to connect with new people.
“Even if you don’t know the people, you can really see their passions and why they are involved, and that makes it really easy to work with them,” Seidler said. “It also makes you really happy when you can help them in any way.”
Seidler, who knew very little about public policy coming into NYU, became the education policy director and is now one of two co-presidents, the other being CAS senior Winnie Chen.
“[Evelyn] is very welcoming to new members and always helps them feel accepted into our group,” Chen said. “I admire Evelyn’s ambition and professionalism. She’s also really fun to be around.”
Seidler’s ambition led her to hold a position in politics before she even came to college. When she was a senior in high school, she was the youngest member ever elected to an Austrian town council seat. She has continued her political involvement in college, interning with the Austrian Parliament, European Parliament and the Clinton Foundation.
Over the past four years, Seidler has developed a strong interest in women’s issues. She most recently interned with Take the Lead Women, an organization dedicated to promoting gender parity in leadership positions.
Seidler first noticed a discrepancy in the way women were treated compared to men during her time interning with the Austrian Parliament under a female boss.
“There were groups of men hanging out together, and [they] seemed very exclusive,” she said. “There is a difference between forcing the women to be in these positions to meet quotas and women being truly elected.”
Seidler also learned great leadership skills from her boss at the Austrian Parliament, including how to make those you work with feel comfortable communicating with you.
Seidler said she remembers that she always felt her opinion was respected, and this experience has influenced how she accepts and uses any leadership role she is given.
“My boss always [made you] feel like you’re on an equal level,” she said. “I really appreciated that. I was at the lowest possible level as an intern, but in meetings she was still asking [my] opinions.”
Her ultimate goal is to work in developing campaign strategies — she is writing her senior honors thesis about how gender affects voting patterns, especially within the U.S. Congress.
“I hope in 10 or 20 years there will be equality in gender,” Seidler said. “What strategies can we use in campaigns to get women into office? That’s something I’m really interested in.”
During her free time, Seidler is like any other college student — reading, practicing yoga, drinking coffee and hanging out with her friends. Having studied at a conservatory before her time at NYU, she also looks for a piano to play when she needs to relax.
More than 4,000 miles away in Vienna, Seidler’s parents proudly watch their only child’s accomplishments from afar. She dedicates much of her success and work ethic to how her parents raised her, explaining how they always supported her interests.
“Something I really learned from my parents growing up is … to do something I’m passionate about,” she said. “My dad always says, ‘Just go out and do it.’ If it’s an area you’re interested in, find a way to get involved and participate. Dedicate your time to a cause if you’re passionate about it.”
Despite her vast success in almost every adventure she embarks on, Seidler still strives to stay grounded and be thankful for all of the opportunities she is given.
“Sometimes when I’m out there waiting in line for Starbucks, I get really annoyed, thinking I don’t want to wait,” she said. “Then I start thinking that I’m living in New York, I can afford to buy this coffee, I’m attending an amazing university, I have so many opportunities, I’ve been given the chance to have amazing internships, I’ve worked with so many outstanding people, I really shouldn’t be standing here complaining about a wait.”
— Larson Binzer