StoriesMeet the People of the WCDP!
Melinda McCabe, a senior at Saline High School, is co-head, along with Amanda Mayer, of the WCDP’s Visibility Committee. She organizes our booth for such community events as the Art Fair and the Heritage festival. Melinda, at 17 years old, was the youngest member elected to the WCDP’s Executive Board, and recently returned from a 6-week internship on Capitol Hill.
You’ve been on the WCDP executive board, as co-chair for Visibility, since January. What made you decide to run for the Board position, and why Visibility specifically?
After my work as a Fellow on the Clinton campaign, I was determined to continue to make a difference in Democratic politics in any way I could. I ran for the position because I knew it was something I wanted to do and I should just give it a shot. Visibility caught my eye because I saw an opportunity to bring a younger perspective to the face of the party through our participation in a variety of events around the community.
Is there something you’ve learned that you feel has changed your perspective from what it was in December?
I’ve learned that so much of being successful in any facet of life is just showing up. On the same token, there’s so much work that goes into party politics behind the scenes at all levels, and it’s been really eye opening to participate.
As Visibility co-chair, you’ve been an organizer of booths at the Ann Arbor Art Fair and the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, among others, but you are also youngest-ever member of the WCDP’s Executive Board. Do you ever think, “I’m too young for that” and if so, how do you get past that doubt?
When I first started out politically, I definitely had some doubts of “I’m too young for this.” How I got over that, however, was by thinking of what a young Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker, or Kirsten Gillibrand would have done in my place. I quickly realized that none of those successful individuals would let something so trivial as age get in their way, and neither would I.
Was there a particular moment that you decided to become politically active, or did you find you were ‘always’ a bit inclined toward the political?
My dad is a United States History teacher, and my middle name is Kennedy. Make of that what you will.
You recently returned from a 6-week internship on Capitol Hill, tell me everything! Firstly, where were you working and what were you doing?
I served as a U.S. Senate Page for the Democratic party, sponsored by Senator Gary Peters. I got to work on the Senate Floor every day, where my duties included delivering correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol and the Senate office buildings, taking messages for Senators, preparing the Chamber for Senate sessions, and carrying bills and amendments to the desks.
Did you get to work with a lot of other teens from around the country (or state), or were mostly interning with older adults?
Yes, working with other teens from around the country was one of the best parts of the program! There are only thirty Pages per session, meaning that almost every Page is from a different state. We had Pages from as far as Alaska and Hawaii and as close as Maryland, and getting to learn and grow with such a variety of people truly completed my experience.
Was there something in particular that happened or that you learned, that you’ve carried with you since you got back from DC?
The coolest moment for me was when Senator Schumer asked for a Page to bring a copy of the healthcare bill to Senator Cornyn in the middle of a heated debate. I happened to be the next page in line, and the literal and figurative walk across the aisle was a nerve-wracking one.
Back to your work with WCDP, since Visibility brings you into a lot of contact with people around the county, do you have a memorable moment or two to share?
One of the most memorable things that I’ve experienced is my first time at the African American Downtown Festival. Everyone, from the festival organizers to local passerby, was so friendly towards our booth and willing to help out in any way possible. This event also had the best atmosphere, with lots of great food!
Which living person do you admire most, and why?
Hillary Clinton, hands down. Both her willingness to work tirelessly to do what is right and to always go down fighting are characteristics that I admire endlessly, and it’s safe to say that I’m still with her.
If you could go to any time and place, where would you go, and why?
As cliche as it may sound, I think I’d like to be right here, right now. Our country is evolving faster than it has in human history and I’d like to be here, working to make it the best it can be.
Where do you see yourself in five years, politically or otherwise?
In five years, I’ll be 22 years old and hopefully graduated from college. My next steps might involve work in the private sector for a few years, or maybe I’ll even join the Peace Corps. My end goal is a lifetime of public service, so we’ll just have to see how I end up there.
Last question: You have four hours of your idea of perfect weather and can do anything you want in Washtenaw County. What do you choose to do?
My newest hobbies are kayaking and picnicking, preferably together. Four hours of sunny, 80 degree weather sounds like the perfect amount of time to go kayaking along the Huron River, with a stop along the way for a picnic of course.
Thank you so much for your time in giving us this interview, and for everything you do for WCDP and the county!