Politics can be grueling and unrewarding. The endless canvassing, phone calls and press releases make a career in politics nearly impossible to balance with everyday life. Despite all that, Gallatin junior Chloe Chik says it’s all worthwhile.
“In politics, eventually you really will feel like you’re a part of something bigger than you,” Chik said. “For every loss I have ever felt there has definitely been triumphs and those triumphs make for great nights and a great personal point of pride.”
Chik’s political career began in high school, canvassing for the “No On Prop 8” campaign and fighting for marriage equality in California. She said she joined the campaign because she knew people directly affected by the referendum and felt obligated to advocate for their rights.
“I just want everyone to be happy and this shouldn’t be a stressor,” Chik said. “Love is not something that should stress you out. There shouldn’t be some external governmental force that affects that.”
For Chik, this political awakening during the Prop 8 campaign came after a divide in her family forced her to formulate her own opinions.
“My mom has been a life-long Democrat and my dad is actually a Republican and so is his whole family,” Chik said. “Growing up I just realized I align more with the Democratic party because I am really big on the environment and LGBT rights.”
Despite her interest in social issues, however, her path to politics was not always clear. In high school, Chik said she strongly considered going to art school.
“I paint and I dance,” Chik said. “For painting and drawing, I almost went to RISD, but decided not to because I really wanted a liberal arts education.”
Eventually, Chik decided to apply to NYU, where she continued to pursue a career in politics. Since working as a canvasser, Chik has worked on more than seven political campaigns and become a leader of the NYU College Democrats. She said that she found a strong community in that group.
“The College Dems have become my family,” Chik said. “I think that is was what got me into it — having the people in those clubs sort of drew me in and I think that now that I am older I am now drawing people in there too.”
CAS senior Sophie Tunney, president of the NYU College Democrats, said it was Chik’s hard work and commitment to politics that sparked their friendship. The two met in the College Democrats and Tunney admired Chik for her ambitious attitude and strong work ethic.
“The first time I met Chloe she was running for a position, and it was my sophomore year and she was a freshman and from that moment we could all tell she was an extremely dedicated person, not only to the club, but in general,” Tunney said. “Through her dedication the past three years, I have become really good friends with her and I know that if I have something like a problem I can always talk to Chloe because she will be there.”
For Chik, that dedication comes from the belief that politics affects the lives of people every day. She said she hopes more people acknowledge the importance of a democratic government and feel obliged to participate.
“I think being a policy-maker is more important than being in politics,” Chik said. “Someone who has a vision, who can execute it, who can navigate through every road block and stop sign and sort of just the path to solve a big problem, whether its as boring as taxation to something as awesome as birth control or environmental issues. That’s why I hope that people will get into politics — politics is personal.”
Despite her passion for politics and all the long hours that it demands, Chik said she understands the importance of leaving her work at the office.
“The craziest part is that work-life balance — being able to be a college student, having my friends, working all these campaigns,” Chik said. “For me, if I am doing something, I’m doing it 150 percent and when I am off I will turn my phone and when its off, its off.”
When she can’t turn her phone off, Chik admits that her job can be exhausting and thankless. However, she said it is all worth it because she is able to make a meaningful impact on the lives of others.
“I was talking about this with a friend over coffee like two hours ago,” Chik said. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why do we even care to be so busy?’ It’s because we actually care about what we do. We change people’s lives. I am willing to stay up into the middle of the night and wake up early in the mornings.” • Alanna Bayarin