A Chat With Okla. Rep. Emily Virgin

A Chat With Okla. Rep. Emily Virgin

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Despite not actually being Panhellenic, Emily Virgin of Norman, Oklahoma is the perfect example of what a Panhellenic woman should be—poised, empowered, and compassionate.

This young woman graduated from OU in 2009 and then was elected into the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010—at the age of 23. 

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to be around her, you can see why she was elected despite her young age; her commitment to Oklahoma and willingness to go the extra mile shines through her.  Keep reading to learn more about this strong leader, her thoughts on the state of Oklahoma, and what you as a college student can do to help.


Emily Virgin has always had a servant's heart, even from a young age. 


“I’m one of those weird people who actually grew up and did what they said they wanted to do when they were 5-years-old,” She said. “I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and public servant. But I definitely wasn’t thinking I would start my career in politics so early. My legislative seat was being vacated by a legislator who was subject to term limits. My dad actually kind of planted the seed with me about potentially running for this seat, because it was going to be open in the next election, and I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head. I knew I was qualified and could help the people of my district, and so I decided to run.” 


She knew that she wanted to serve Oklahoma in some way, and eventually decided she could best do that by running for public office and going to law school. “I realized that the best way I could do that was through public service – that’s just the best way that I could put my gifts and talents to use. I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to figure out the best way to use their talents to help other people.”   

          
Last week, she took the Bar exam, so she’s well on her way to filling her 5-year-old wishes. Speaking of 5-year-olds, we discussed her childhood. She started with this tragedy, “I always wanted a My-Size Barbie, but never got one.” Luckily, her dad made up for it. “I had an awesome Playmobil dollhouse that was probably the coolest thing I ever owned," she said. "It took my dad all day on Christmas to put it together, so you can imagine how much he loved it.” 


Continuing with the nostalgic theme, I asked who was her favorite Disney princess. Not surprisingly, she chose Mulan, another strong woman with a servant's heart. We went on to discuss the state of Oklahoma, and what can be done about it. “Absolutely one of the biggest problems is that common education is not funded as well as it should be," she said. "Our teachers need to be paid more, so that we can attract and retain the best teachers. To me, education is the foundation of all other issues, and we need to make sure we give it adequate funding…I hope that Oklahoma will truly make common education and higher education a priority."


Virgin said she loves Oklahoma. "I think we’re among the most caring people in the country. However, I think we don’t do a good enough job of caring for those who need it the most – needy children, the hungry, poor, elderly, etc. That goes back to funding, as well. I’m sure everyone has good intentions with these groups, but we have to put our money where our mouth is. We currently have 7,000 people on a waiting list for services from the Department of Disability Services. That is simply unacceptable, so I hope that we will truly care for underserved populations in the future, because we are a caring and giving population.”


If these issues resonate with you, Representative Virgin has some advice. “The best way to get involved in politics is to work on a state or local campaign. Get involved with a candidate you believe in, and work hard to get them elected or re-elect them.” If you don’t have the time to volunteer, there are other options. 


“Another thing I would encourage you to do is pay attention to the bills that are going through the legislature, and if there’s one that interests you, contact your legislator about it. It would mean so much to a legislator if a college student was vocal about their support or opposition of a particular piece of legislation.” Finally, if you truly want to make Oklahoma a better state she has one recommendation. “Vote," she said. "I can’t stress enough the importance of registering to vote, and being an active voter.”

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

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For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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Dear America, We Can Step Forward As A Country If We Stop Believing That Only One Belief Is Valid

It's time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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Dear America,

2018 was a year of political strife and conflict. The left and the right fought constantly. Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the tiniest mistakes, and there were only a small number of successful bipartisan deals. Politicians and citizens alike seemed more concerned with sticking to party platforms, even ones they truly didn't believe in, rather than compromising with the other side to improve our society.Yet all this name-calling and hatred — what does it do in the end? What does it accomplish?

We've only seen an increased polarization of American politics and an expanded hostility towards "the other side." We don't consider the well-being of each and every person in America and the bettering of our society, or the building of a stronger world for our children and grandchildren.

We spend so much time insulting each other's political beliefs that we forget probably the most important fact that links us all together: We are all human. We all share the same basic needs, the same struggles, the same moments of happiness and sadness.

And yet we are willing to put our similarities aside and only focus on our differences. We are willing to thrust ourselves into the deep anger and loathing that comes in attacking those different from us. We are willing to parry insults behind the safety of a phone screen and forget all about what makes us alike. And we are willing to gloss over the fact that we have more similarities than differences.

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Yes, political beliefs make a person. Political beliefs define the values, ideas and thoughts of a person. But sometimes, we have to reach over those beliefs, as hard as that may be, and focus on the bigger picture at hand. What will insulting someone because of those beliefs do? It definitely won't change their views or make them see things from your point of view.

It's sad and frustrating that this endless fighting doesn't even occur between two countries or two governments or two nation-states. Instead, we see arguments and strife between two family members, two neighbors or even two strangers, all living in the same community and under the same government, all sharing more similarities than differences.

We need to stop focusing so much on singular ideas. We need to stop believing in the close-minded idea that only one thought is the best thought. And instead of wasting energy trying to change other's opinions, we need to use that energy and time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities.

These past few years have truly divided America. Let's make 2019 a year of unity, because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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