I was born in
Concord, North Carolina in 1991 to a working class family. My mother held a supervising position at Perdue Farms in Concord, N.C. I have a loving stepfather and two beautiful younger sisters that are prior service in the United States Army.
I also had a passion for politics at a very young age. My mother always called me her “old-soul toddler” growing up, because I was constantly glued to the television set keeping up with current events (I was a big Wolf Blitzer fan during high school for whatever reason!) and reading the newspapers and books on American history. It all seemed like a natural thing for me to want to absorb and understand.
So, having an opinion and vision for what America meant to me was never an issue! I was even asked to excuse myself from class in middle school one day for bringing a John Kerry 2004 sign into the room. All the Bush ‘04 kids were in full agreement to see me leave (to their sheer delight), but they still liked me enough to come eat lunch with me after class.
I graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science in International Studies, along with an internship with Senator Kay Hagan under my belt. That same year I enlisted into the US Army Reserves, and my path into public service began – but I had no idea to what extent how that type of service would change my entire outlook on the country.
I joined the military initially out of very personal reasons. My education debt was mounting; I was getting disillusioned about my job prospects after graduation; and I was very eager to get some experience outside of Cabarrus County and my neighborhood in Fisher Town.
U.S. Army could be a pathway forward.
The Army seemed to me to be the only rational option, but what I underestimated was how inspiring the culture was in the military. You felt like you belonged to something bigger than yourself. And only one identity mattered above all else – you being an American.
It was one of the first times I felt patriotic about my role in the story of America. I had read about the exceptionalism of America my entire life in text books and novels. But actually wearing the uniform and going through the training with other soldiers to be was the first time I felt like I was serving in a significant way.
My training continued at
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for ROTC. The most consequential growth for me took place there. I was forced to embrace some hard truths about myself and ways I could improve my leadership style, but I had a cadre that didn’t give up on me. They helped guide me towards the right priorities and refined my discipline, and in 2017 I commissioned into US Army Reserves as a 2LT and completed my training thereafter as a Public Affairs Officer.
At the same time, I was actively involved in the theater scene at UNC. I had three major performances to my name , and I learned so much about being a human and the power of allowing yourself to empathize with others. Looking back now, it was just as crucial to my development that I had a background in the arts.
But I’m also shaped by the power of America’s diversity.
The idea that we are actually strengthened by our differences is something that has been bred in me since the beginning. It is not something to be convinced of – but rather a doctrine to abide by. The dream of the civil rights movement and the ideas of our founding documents – of an America that values the character of a person above all else – Im proud to say is most reflected in my generation.
As a biracial American , I drew great inspiration growing up with peers not burdened by race in the same way others were before us. And as an LGBT American, I see firsthand the progress that has been made on important issues of equality.
In a lot of ways, I belong to the generation that America has always been fighting for; an America we have always been aspiring to be. Whether you’re Christian, Black, White, Jewish, gay, straight , and everything in between – you have value. Your story has value. And it all comes together to strengthen the one thing we all have in common with each other – and that’s being an American. That is who we are at our core.
Somewhere along the line, it seems like we have forgotten this. We’ve come to emphasize only on the things that divide us instead of what unites us. I know we can do better. And I’ve been inspired to do something about it by running to be your next Congressman.
We do big things in this country when we unite. I’m committed in doing the work to get us back on track in this country, and to forge an America that does right by our working class families and extends the blessings of opportunity to all.