In January, we welcomed Maddie Hindman as the newest intern for Every Future Foundation.
Her main responsibilities have been creating social media content and supporting the facilitation of the Activism Academy. As she prepares to depart from her study abroad program in London, we asked her a few questions to learn more about her studies and activism in America!
Interviewer – Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? What are you studying?
Maddie – I am from West Chester, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, where I live with my parents, my younger sister Peyton, and our dog Ellie. In the fall, I will begin my fourth year of study at the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). In the upcoming academic year, I will complete my undergraduate degree in political science while I also begin work towards my graduate degree in public policy. I am following a five-year dual degree program which will conclude in May of 2025. Additionally, I am pursuing a minor in sociology and an enhanced minor in civic and community engagement. Beyond academics, I serve as the president of Un-PAC, a nonpartisan pro-democracy organization, and outreach chair of Challah for Hunger, a nonprofit organization fighting food insecurity on college campuses. In my spare time, I enjoy baking all kinds of desserts, going to ice hockey games with my friends, or going out for sushi!
Interviewer – What attracted you to want to do your internship at Every Future Foundation?
Maddie – I was over the moon excited when I was matched with Every Future Foundation. My passion is advocacy work in local communities, and a deep sense of care and devotion to the improvement of one’s community is at the heart of everything I do. Lara started Every Future Foundation because she saw a significant problem in her community, and she set out to make a difference. Improving the London community for everyone is the core of Every Future Foundation’s mission, and I wanted to support that mission no matter how small my role. The Activism Academy also drew me in. I participated in the Youth Power Academy last summer which had similar goals of empowering young people to become powerful leaders in their communities. I wanted the chance to take what I learned from my academy and apply it to the Activism Academy, so the students could have the best experience possible.
Interviewer – Tell us a little bit about the activism you have been doing at your University? What social problem did you see and how were you taking action to try and change that.
Maddie – I am highly involved in activism at my university with a focus on pro-democracy initiatives. Previously, I work with an organization called Un-PAC which is a national organization with chapters at universities across the country. Our mission is to empower youth to participate more in democracy and we have four central goals: canceling classes on election day, expanding the number of polling places on campus, incorporating voter registration into freshman orientation, and making all political spending by the university transparent. I have always been passionate about voting, especially when it comes to my generation. It’s simple. Gen Z has the lowest voter turnout, and I want to change that. I believe voting is critical to the life of our democracy, and every single person has an important role to play. When Un-PAC started a chapter at Penn State, I knew I wanted to lead the charge.
Interviewer – What was the result of your social campaigning?
Maddie – From the start, we knew that change would not be easy. Penn State is a massive institution with ninety-thousand students across the central and commonwealth campuses. We spent hours canvassing the library, dining halls, student union, and other high traffic areas around campus to gather petition signatures. We used social media and published articles in local newspapers. We collaborated with the student government to further push for these reforms. In March, the Faculty Senate, a body of tenured professors who make decisions about the academic calendar, approved legislation to cancel classes on election day! We still have a long way to go to achieve our other goals to make voting accessible for students, but no class on election day is a significant step in the right direction.
Interviewer – What was your biggest hurdle in your journey to seeking change?
Maddie – I think self-doubt was most often our biggest obstacle. When university administrators ignore your emails and refuse to meet with you or when students around campus say “I don’t believe in democracy” or “I don’t care about voting,” it can be very easy to feel defeated. When we were a few months into our efforts and it felt like change would never come, our team began to doubt whether change was possible. What’s the point if the students we’re trying to advocate for don’t even support our efforts? What’s the point if the university will continue shutting us down?
As is true with many pursuits in life, you can’t give up. When you really believe in something, you have to keep fighting for it. Despite those students who didn’t care or the administrators who ignored us or the snow storms that prevented us from holding demonstrations or the janitors who took down our banners, we kept going. Hearing the news about classes being canceled on election day felt so empowering. Nothing feels better than seeing your hard work pay off. It was a much needed reminder that the fight for democracy reform is far from over.
Interviewer – What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?
Maddie – My short term plans are to complete my degrees and continue working for Un-PAC to achieve more accessible voting measures for university students. In the long term, I hope to continue grassroots activism which involves organizing in local communities. I don’t have specific plans post-graduation, but I know that my passion for service and improving communities will guide me in the right direction.
We are so grateful to welcome amazing and inspiring interns to our organisation. We are always happy to discuss an internship with passionate young people – so if you are interested in interning with Every Future Foundation – get in touch with [email protected].