Students react at ‘Making an Activist’ event

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Eastern alum answers students’ questions

Allison Little, Staff Reporter

Erika Weaver, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, discussed her life experiences, the lessons she learned and answered student questions in Coleman Hall Auditorium Wednesday as part of an event for African-American Heritage Month.

Many of the students in attendance said they were inspired by her message about becoming an activist.

Weaver said she spoke at the event because as an alumna, she wanted to give back to the university and its current students.

“I was a student here,” Weaver said. “Representation matters, it’s important for the young people here to see what happens after school, after they graduate.”

She said that she was glad to come back to talk to students.

“I think it went well. I come back all the time for TRiO events, so I come back and talk to students because everyone needs to be encouraged,” Weaver said.

She gave advice for all Eastern students — not just those who are working to become activists themselves.

“Trust the process and don’t give up; keep going until you finish and be OK with being uncomfortable because it’s going to be hard. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything that’s been easy. It’s all been hard, but it’s been rewarding because I stayed with it, and I want (students) to do that and not give up on their education,” Weaver said.

Karl Webber, a junior political science major, said he was impressed by Weaver’s perseverance.

“She was real moving, really. I took her as a true inspiration just because coming from being an African-American male, she came from being homeless, and she started from way under where I’m from, but just to see somebody persevere through hard times,” Webber said.

Maddison Irons, a freshman political science major, said she was inspired by Weavers speech on activism.

“I also thought it was extremely interesting in her speech about how to become an activist gave me new insight to things. For example, maybe which activist movements I might want to consider joining and what could be a good fit for me,” Irons said.

Webber said her message was inspiring to him because of her theme of perseverance.

“She didn’t give up, and she still hasn’t given up, so just to see her keep pushing forward through adversity even through success, she could stop today and feel satisfied with what she’s done so far, but just the fact that she wants to do more is so moving, especially for college kids who’s trying to get into her position,” Webber said. “It was real inspiring. I really would, and I really want to volunteer for her campaign.”

Malia Mattsmith said that she thought Weaver was an inspiration for talking about her past and how she persevered through her struggles.

“I thought it was amazing. I think she brought many great views to an activist now, and from a person who’s probably gone through a lot more than any of us have gone through, and shining a light on her experience, I thought it was amazing. I love her,” Mattsmith said.

Weaver said regarding her campaign, she wanted people to know that she is trustworthy,

“I want people to know they can trust me to practice what I preach, and so if I say it because I mean it, I do that,” Weaver said. “I am who I say I am, and I’m going to always operate with integrity and authenticity.”

Allison Little can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].