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My Bradley Experience

What sparks the decision to change one’s course? Punya Krishnappa ’11 knows exactly when — and where — it happened for her.

‘I Found My Voice Here’

When I started at Bradley in the fall of 2007, I had every intention of being the next Christiane Amanpour. But I’m not sure I would have stumbled so gracefully into the political world if it weren’t for my Bradley experience.

It started that same fall when Anna Ruch ’10 asked me to volunteer for a trip to Iowa. I went from knocking on doors on weekends in Cedar Rapids for then-Sen. Barack Obama to organizing trips to Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana. Little did I know I would take off the fall semester of my sophomore year to work for him in North Carolina during the general election.

From there, my curiosity about not just our democracy, but democracies around the world led me to experience a different political institution when I interned at the London Parliament during my semester abroad. But it didn’t stop there.

What really left an impression on me was Dr. Amy Scott’s class on the history of social movements.

What really left an impression on me was Dr. Amy Scott’s class on the history of social movements. I often left class thinking about what it would’ve been like to be alive during the rise of issues like climate change and women’s rights. What was life like in the ’60s and ’70s? Then I realized that we’re still living in a time when these issues and movements are evolving.

One of my fondest memories is the year I spent in Iowa in 2015 leading up to the start of the 2016 primaries. A presidential campaign is the political Super Bowl, and working for Sen. Hillary Clinton was inspiring every day. Working with so many talented people was beyond what I could have expected. After a brief hiatus post-2016 — a year in the hospitality industry — I returned to politics as director of states for Michelle Obama’s civic engagement initiative, When We All Vote. Focused solely on motivating people to vote, the initiative aimed to change the culture around voting.

Today, I’m the deputy national field director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in Washington, D.C., running the largest and earliest field investment program in the committee’s history. We’ve hired 60 staffers in districts across the country to lay the groundwork for a program that will take grassroots organizing to the next level. Trained in communications, digital, research and field tactics, they’ll execute a modern campaign strategy. It’s an immense responsibility and opportunity to work alongside a new generation on issues that continue to affect our lives.

Looking back on my years at Bradley, I trace it all back to meeting Anna in the Student Center that started me on this crazy career path. When I arrived on campus as a wide-eyed 18-year-old leaving home for the first time, I wasn’t always sure I had a voice or even how to be a part of the conversation. I’m still finding my voice, molding my identity and creating my own path, but it all started with my years at Bradley.

Today and every day, I’m proud to be a Bradley Brave.

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