A Passion for Advocacy
Political science graduate Nicole Skinner grew her interest in activism through U of I’s Department of Politics and Philosophy
It was shortly into her first year at the University of Idaho that Nicole Skinner realized she had a passion for politics.
“I just fell head over heels in love with some of the classes I was taking within the department,” said Skinner, a senior majoring in political science and economics who graduates in spring 2019. “It really helped me discern what my purpose in life is and what I am good at.”
Raised in Meridian, ID her interest in politics was sparked during high school when she competed in speech and debate. As her freshman year progressed, Skinner started getting involved in activism around campus.
“I had a realization that my purpose in life is to focus on people other than myself and trying to make their lives as great as possible,” she said.
Her connections within the Department of Politics and Philosophy led her to a number of political and advocacy opportunities during her time at U of I. This included an internship in the Idaho Legislature, working on a campaign for gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan, as well writing blog posts and researching policy for state Rep. Mat Erpelding, coordinating social media for advocacy groups and interning with Planned Parenthood in Boise, ID.
“I got to the point that I realized my passion is for activism, specifically for policy.” Skinner said. “The opportunities that I had allowed me to try a lot of different things that helped me figure out what I love to do.”
Among her peers, Skinner noticed a wider need for higher education advocacy and student safety measures. With this in mind, she decided to run for ASUI president.
“I struggled to see myself ever really making a big impact,” Skinner said. “But I was surrounded by some really great people who empowered me to challenge and believe in myself.”
Skinner was an ASUI senator before deciding to run for President. Since she and Vice President Carlos Vazquez were elected in April 2018, Skinner has focused on the same issues she campaigned on — advocacy for students and higher education. Skinner and her team created the inaugural Idaho higher education legislative report card in partnership with Idaho’s other state institutions. The report card reviewed all higher education bills in the Legislature, looking at which representative and senator voted for what and producing a letter grade for each elected official.
Skinner expects the lessons she has learned as a political science major and as ASUI president will stick with her far beyond her time at U of I. She recently won a national contest to meet Judge Judy and will fly to Los Angeles the day after graduation to try a mock case in the courtroom. She is currently looking for a job that allows her to equip political strategy and policy research to advance human rights for all.
“I have really learned that you should invest a lot of energy into empowering other people to pursue what they really care about,” Skinner said. “When you get to a level where you’re having to function at such a high frequency, you have no choice but to rely on the people around you. The value of teambuilding will play a role in the rest of my life to come.”
Article by Meredith Spelbring
Published May 2019