Jimmie Ven Eerden ,19
January 1, 2008
Jimmy Van Eerden, 19 from Stokesdale, N.C.
Jimmy Van Eerden is the oldest of 10 children, so he's used
to taking the lead in projects. Spurred on by a friend's frustrations,
he began holding voter registration drives by age 14. He's also
involved in the youth advisory council of the School of Government at
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he and other
members are charged with promoting civic engagement in their schools
And one more thing: He's helping to start up a youth leadership
organization called the I Am Foundation. The idea behind it is that
youth need to go beyond identifying problems in our nation. "It's
actually about focusing on each and every one of us individually, and
if we do that, then that's when we can really change the political
structure for the better," he said.
Jimmy plans to attend Grove City College in Pennsylvania in the
fall and major in political science and philosophy on the pre-law
track.What inspired you to become politically active?
When I was about 13 or 14, I remember hearing one of my friends talk
about politics, and he said something like, "I don't understand these
politicians. Politics seem really pointless." And then later that
night I went back home and talked with my dad a little bit, and I
remember him talking about what Ronald Reagan said. He had talked
about a shining city on a hill, and I thought to myself, "How can we
preserve that when people aren't willing to be more involved in
something as simple as voting and getting involved in the political
process?"You said that you've managed to get over 100 people registered to vote
each year. How did you do it?
I worked every year on going to churches, going to civic
organizations, going to other places and helping them to get
registered to vote. You don't realize that a lot of people actually
aren't even registered to vote, and those that are registered may want
to change parties or may want to change positions. And so I think
it's important to help them to be able to do that.Whom do you support for president and why?
I support John McCain. His military record is very strong in terms of
his sense of orders, in terms of our role in other countries, in
international relations. But the other thing I like about John McCain,
this is maybe the most important issue why I support him, is that in a
lot of ways he has bucked the tide, has bucked tradition. Although he
was really in with the Republican Party, he parted from them in many
ways. And to me that's a sign of a person that's strong-minded, a
person that's not willing just to cater to partisan behavior.