After winning the highly competitive Democratic primary for the Third Congressional District seat earlier in the month, Sharice Davids, alumna, visited the college where she received her Associate degree years ago.
“For this particular [Congressional] seat, we need more people with a broader range of lived experiences running for office,” Davids said. “As someone who was raised by a single mom, [a] first generation college student, started off with an Associate degree at a community college, those experiences are not uncommon and certainly worthy of being represented, but we don’t see enough representation of those kinds of experiences in Congress.”
Davids chose to run for the Congressional seat after noticing a lack of diversity in the race.
“When I looked at the field of candidates, there wasn’t a woman in the race at that time,” Davids said. “I was wondering if there was going to be a woman candidate … If you are asking the question because you see a problem, I think you should be willing to stand up and become part of the solution.”
Davids would make history as the first lesbian Native American elected to congress. Her campaign reaches out to the LGBT+ community, who has had troubles with Kansas in the past. The most recent issue being Senate Bill 284, allowing adoption agencies to refuse service to those who identify as LGBT+ because of religious reasons.
“I feel that … it is my responsibility to try to make sure that [their] issues are being thought about [and] being part of the conversation,” Davids said.
Experience at the college
Like many other students, Davids took a variety of classes at the college and graduated with an Associate of liberal arts degree.
“I had a really good experience here,” Davids said. “I remember struggling with the parking.”
Davids worked in between classes to put herself through school. Her busy schedule kept her from having a complete experience at the college.
“Because I was working the whole time I was in school, one of the things that I noticed … that I hadn’t really had what I would call a traditional college type of experience.”
She shared some of her regrets from her time at the college.
“I didn’t participate as often as I could have or would’ve liked to,” Davids said. “I know there is always tons of great speakers that come to the Carlsen Center. I definitely did not take advantage of that in a way that I know I would’ve enjoyed. That is something I wish that I would’ve done.”
Advice for students
Her journey from student at the college to congressional nominee is a lesson about success and purpose. She hopes to share part of that lesson to students interested in government positions.
“I think … a lot of people have this idea about the track you are supposed to be on and what you are supposed to be doing,” Davids said. “There is not really one right way to do what you want to do. If someone wants to run for office, they don’t necessarily need a law degree. I think you need to figure out for what purpose are you doing it and then I think a lot of the steps that you need to take will fall into place.”
Davids explained her greatest challenge and the lesson it taught her.
Davids said, “I think that probably the biggest challenge was figuring out what I thought success meant. Once I did that, I felt like I’ve been on a great path ever since then. It has been a really interesting journey for sure.”