Motivated by the State of the Union

January 15, 2016
Cayla Ebert

Cayla Ebert spent winter break in Washington D.C. doing volunteer legal work for asylum seekers. She also found herself at President Obama's final State of the Union address.

Ebert is a first-year law student at the University of Minnesota and a native of Plymouth, Minnesota, which is part of the state's 3rd Congressional District, represented in the U.S. House by Erik Paulsen. He invited her to join him at the event.

"It was incredible to meet many representatives and their guests," Ebert says. "Being in the presence of our nation's representatives, senators, and president puts American democracy into perspective and gives me more faith in the system. It motivates me to empower myself and others to better our nation and the world."

Ebert says she now sees congress and even the president as "regular people whose goal is to better the nation," even though they all believe that one way—their own—is better. "The experience humanized the political process," she says. "It made me realize that compromise and true discussion where all opinions are respected and heard is the only way to get congress to be productive again."

She found the pomp and circumstance of the State of the Union to be "a bit much!" But she adds: "It's a good reminder of the power of our government and our nation, and what America stands for."