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Co-op hits the campaign trail

Kate Buckley cut her political teeth on co-op at the State House for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration, where she helped manage day-to-day operations. Mike Fox began as an intern for Senator Scott Brown’s re-election campaign, for which he attended rallies and placed calls on the candidate’s behalf.

Now the Northeastern University senior political science majors are channeling that experience as campus liaisons between students and the two Massachusetts senate candidates: Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Brown, the Republican incumbent.

They registered voters up until the mid-October deadline, and are actively teaching students about the candidates and making sure supporters make it to the polls next week. They also support the campaigns’ broader efforts in Boston and across the state.

“I had zero political experience until this campaign,” said Fox, who is working for Brown. “Now I’m leading a team of students here at Northeastern and out in the community.”

“Right now our job is to engage Northeastern students,” noted Buckley, a Warren supporter who leads a team of volunteers on campus in canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts. “We work to lay out Elizabeth’s standpoints — even if you aren’t interested in politics, they’re pretty straightforward. They’re messages like ‘Are you interested in getting a job after your graduate?’ and ‘Do you want to see the economy improve?’ These are issues that resonate with everyone.”

Fox’s team of students uses similar tactics to rally support for Brown. “We’re working to get students thinking about where we are as a country and where we’re going,” he said.

Fox and Buckley agreed that working on a real-world campaign has enhanced their classroom learning.

“You’re able to think about government and politics as more than just theory and history,” Buckley said. “You’ve been out there working in the field so you can really understand how what you’re learning applies and why it is important.”

After graduating in the spring, Buckley hopes to find a job in state government. Fox would like to work on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer.

“This election has given me the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with key members of the campaign team as well as prominent politicians from all throughout the country,” Fox said. “I believe that these experiences will give me both the necessary contacts and skills to obtain a position as a congressional staffer after graduation and be successful in that capacity.”