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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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