On Behalf Of Millennials Everywhere: Thanks, Obama

On Behalf Of Millennials Everywhere: Thanks, Obama

Why we're grateful to have been raised during one of the most unforgettable presidencies.
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Thanks, Obama.

“Thanks, Obama” was a viral trend over the past few years. Everything from spilled milk to broken laptop chargers was jokingly blamed on our then-President, mocking the way that everyone somehow found a way to blame him for their misfortune.

However, I now say it not as a joke, but as a sincere expression of the respect I have for Obama. Our country was so lucky to have a man who signified grace, class, and dignity in the most respectable manner imaginable. Obama is incomparably kind, humble, and intelligent, in a way that our current President perhaps may never be capable of.

President Obama, you showed us that a President does not have to be unrelatable. From making friendship bracelets for your running down the White House halls with your dog, you never failed to remind us that you were human, too. You never stood before us as a dictator or a king, but instead, as an equal. Rather than shying away from being emotionally vulnerable in the intimidating public eye, you cried with us. You mourned our losses, and you celebrated our victories, just like the rest of us do. You reminded us that you were just another person, trying to do their job the best they could.

Thank you for being a voice for many, for those whose voices were silenced. For immigrants, for those discriminated against, for women – you have been an invaluable ally, and we can never thank you enough for standing with us and representing us.

I know you did not fight alone. To all of the Senate and House members, to your Cabinet, to all members of the government who stood with you, I extend my gratitude. The Obama administration was fearless and passionate, and I will admire that forever.

Thank you to you, and Michelle, for being the epitome of a power couple. As two people who built each other up and brought out the strengths in each other, your love and support for each other has been inspiring.

President Obama, thank you for the Affordable Care Act. You encouraged us to put the value of human lives over the value of our tax money. You pushed for causes America was hesitant to accept, unafraid of the backlash and criticism you would receive, and a result, thousands of lives have been saved. You reminded us that no one deserves to die because they can’t afford treatment.

I know that you were not flawless. I know many did not agree with everyone you said, that you made mistakes, too. I commend you for rebounding, learning from your past, and openly apologizing to those who deserved an apology. You were criticized for showing weakness, but we know those apologies were appreciated. You were unafraid to admit to your personal errors, as well as those of our nation. These apologies reminded us that America is not flawless, that our country must acknowledge its flaws in order to actively combat them.

Perhaps most importantly, thank you for being our first black President. You knew that every move you made would be analyzed and critiqued, that everyone would emphasize your flaws and understate your accomplishments. You knew that as a black man, you would have to work twice as hard to demonstrate your abilities. You knew that your Presidency will influence the fates of all future potential black Presidents. I can never stop emphasizing how important representation is, and you have shown millions of minority children across the country what they are capable of becoming and accomplishing. You have shown them that the color of their skin cannot, and will not, stop them.

Thank you for emphasizing the importance of education, of equality, of fundamental human rights.

Thank you for persevering through the last eight years, allowing our country to progress, and reminding us that while far from perfect, America is already pretty darn great.

Thanks, Obama.

Cover Image Credit: The Loop

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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You Might Love Being A CNA, But That Compassion Won't Show Up In Your Paycheck

A big heart means nothing if you're struggling to make ends meet.

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To the ones who love their job and doing what they do but is on the fence about leaving their job, I was in your shoes, too.

I knew when I started my job as a CNA (certified nurse's assistant), it would be a hard one. If you know anything about the job duties of a CNA, you'll quickly understand that for all of the work that we do, we're ridiculously underpaid and overworked.

I'll start by saying I loved my job.

Though the days were long and I was on my feet more than I sat down during the day, I loved being able to help people. I loved being able to make people smile and hear a simple "Thank you" and sometimes, that's all I needed for my day to do a full 360. I could be having the worst day in the world and covered in random bodily fluids, but walking out of a resident's room and hearing them quietly tell you that they appreciate what you've done for them, that's truly the one thing that can change my entire day, knowing that my hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

But compassion doesn't pay mine or anyone else's bills.

Someone could love their job and be happy to be there every single shift, but when you're overworked but so underpaid, your compassion may not leave, but your bills begin to pile up and you're stuck with not knowing what to do. If you're anything like me, you'll be so conflicted about leaving your job to find something better financially, but you know that you're leaving a job you enjoy doing and you may not find that enjoyment elsewhere.

At the end of the day, you have to realize what would be best for you. You can be the most compassionate about your job, but that compassion means nothing if you're struggling to make ends meet. I know from experience that if you're in a field like mine, it's hard to leave because you know people will need you, but you have to do what's best for you and only you.

Compassion doesn't pay the bills.

You may have to leave a job that you love, but there are so many opportunities out there and, who knows, you might find one you enjoy just as equally.

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