Call to Political Activism was Music to Her Ears

By Damian Cristodero

Lauren Scheiderer’s interest in politics sparked at age 10 when she developed what she described as a fascination with the Beatles. Reading up on the band led her to also investigate the rebellious 1960s.

“I liked the spirit of activism and how much change was going on and how tumultuous everything was,” said Scheiderer, an incoming George Mason University freshman. “It was exciting and something I wanted to be involved in.”

Scheiderer got her wish when she graduated in February of her senior year at Peninsula Catholic High School in Newport News, Va., to take a job as a field organizer in Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, which was fueling a populist uprising among some Democrats, especially millennials.

It was the next step for Scheiderer, who had volunteered in Shelly Simonds’ campaign during her 2015 run for the Virginia House of Delegates. Scheiderer gravitated toward Sanders because he advocated for campaign finance reform and environmental protections.

Over five months Scheiderer worked in Iowa, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In Iowa, she knocked on doors to make Sanders’ case to potential voters. After that, she trained others to do the same. When her full-time gig finished, she volunteered for a month in California.

“I have pretty much unparalleled experience for someone my age in this and did well while doing it,” said Scheiderer, who comes to George Mason as a University Scholar and Honors College member. “ I know where to look and what I want to do.”

Not a bad primer for a likely government and international politics major. And to think it all began with Scheiderer’s mother, Lisa, playing her favorite Beatles songs in the house and singing them to her kids as well.

“That’s kind of her personality,” Lisa said of her daughter. “She finds something she likes and goes about it 100 percent until she’s an expert.”

Scheiderer was on Mason’s radar even before she joined Sanders’ campaign.

“She had some of the most compelling letters of recommendation I’ve ever read,” said Andy Hoefer, assistant dean of the Honors College. “Her teachers were impressed by her intellect and moved by her compassion and ethical vision.”

Mason suits her, Scheiderer said, because of its proximity to Washington, D.C.

“And I like a big, diverse campus with a lot of opportunities,” she added.

And now that Bernie is out of the race, she said, “I will vote for Hillary.”