Oscar is currently a sophomore majoring in Political Science and minoring in Statistics. This past semester, Oscar took time off from USC to work on the Obama campaign in Florida. Read about his experience being part of the campaign.
What sparked your interest to take time off of school to work for the Obama campaign?
I had been with working with the campaign since senior year in high school and was completely enamored with it. The summer after freshman year at USC, I was working in Campaign Headquarters in Chicago and I had a decision to make: finish what I had started over a year ago or go back to school? There was too much at stake for myself, my family, and the country in this election and I didn’t want to wake up the morning of November 7 to a headline in the Los Angeles Times that read “Romney Wins” wondering if there was more I could have done. I had to fight for what I believe in– even if it meant not seeing my family, friends, and school for few months.
What was the most rewarding and the most challenging experience working for a political campaign?
There were many ups and downs on the campaign trail, but one particular night captured the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my experience with the campaign. It was the first week of October, and I was sitting in my office in Hollywood, Florida at about 2 am. I was exhausted and wouldn’t go home for at least another hour; we had been working 14 hour days with no days off since August and I was homesick and stressed. I’m not sure why, but I began to think about the people I love– my family and best friends. And for each one of them, I could think of something in this campaign that would affect them. The hopes and dreams of college students, ending discrimination, the dignity of work, the world we want to leave for the next generation– I was fighting for these things. And I could go to bed every night and wake up every morning knowing that, in my own small way, I was doing something to make this world a better place for the people I care about.
What were your personal thoughts when Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage?
I was in my dorm in Parkside watching CNN when the news broke that President Obama had come out in support of marriage equality. I remember immediately thinking that this was a moment I would never forget (and texting literally everyone I knew). I thought about what this meant for LGBT kids and teenagers across the country who could now, for the first time in American history, look to their President and really believe that the arc of history bends toward justice. Clearly, there’s more work to be done, but having a fierce advocate in the Oval Office makes that work possible.
Within his a second term, what are your expectations for the President?
With regard to President Obama’s second term, one thing we should have learned from his first term is that change doesn’t come overnight. It is hard, it is tiring, but we need to keep pushing. I hope Congress can work with the President to craft legislation that makes sure that we have an economy built to last by investing in education and infrastructure, reducing the deficit, and making sure that everyone gets a fair shot and everyone pays their fair share. I also look forward to the President signing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the DREAM Act, our troops coming home from Afghanistan, and passage of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.
How was it meeting the President?
Having lunch with the President was… awesome. In 2004, Barack Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention and said that, being the son of a Black goat herder from Kenya and a White mother from Kansas, his presence on that stage was unlikely. But that his presence was also a testament to what is possible in America. As I sat down with President Obama for lunch, I thought to myself something similar. Being the son of two poor Mexican immigrants, my own presence next to the President was also unlikely. It was an extremely humbling experience and my conversation with him really solidified my belief that Barack Obama means it when he says he cares about average folks.
Oscar has been involved with Sigma Delta Alpha Fraternity and the Freshman Advocacy Board.