Student Takes Office in her Senior Year
Erin Moran is a senior, president of the chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America, active in Friends of St. Vinny’s, a lacrosse coach and a home health aide. At 21, she is also a trustee on the Waunakee Village Board. In the spring semester of her junior year, Moran filed paperwork after a bit of research confirmed that she was, in fact, old enough to run for office.
“I just really started to learn more about the process and village government and more about my hometown,” Moran said. “Waunakee is growing really fast and I live right on Main Street in my great-grandparents house, so there’s been a lot of development around us which is really good and it’s good for the village, but I almost started to feel like, ‘Okay, if I want to live here long term, I want a say in how this looks.’ “
Entering a local political race at 21 was never really Moran’s plan until this past year. She had been involved in her high school’s student government, where she learned she liked to lead and look at the big picture to find solutions. She thought maybe one day she would do city administration or run for school board.
“I looked at the board, and I didn’t really feel represented as a young person and as a woman. There was only one other woman on the board,” Moran said. “So, I decided it was time to try. I can’t really complain about things I’m not willing to fix.”
When she announced her candidacy, Moran found support in both her Waunakee community and her Edgewood College community.
“My professors especially were just totally on board. I value that they know me as a person, they care about me as a student and they’re willing to work with me. They know how valuable to me this is as a person,” Moran said.
Moran says she was overwhelmed and humbled by the support she received in her campaign from mentors, professors, classmates and friends from both Waunakee and Edgewood College.
A Communication Studies major, opportunities in class helped to prepare Moran for her future campaign. Whether it was the social media class, the speakers and conferences or the interactivity in the classroom, the school she transferred to her sophomore year has provided the tools necessary for this new position.
“I’m from Waunakee, so I think I realized I just wanted to be in Madison. I missed the city,” Moran said of her choice to make the switch to Edgewood College. “I had attended an environmental stewardship boarding school for part of high school that had really small classes. I think I didn’t realize how small I wanted and how that actually impacted my education, so I value that at Edgewood College.”
Balancing work, school and life as a trustee takes a bit of juggling, but open communication with everyone involved has made the transition a little easier. Still, she’s not sure she’ll want to keep up a political career in the future.
“This wasn’t a stepping stone, I’m not going to become a senator. I just really care about the place I’m from and wanted to give back,” Moran said.
Moran didn’t set out to be an inspiration, but she’s happy that her decision to run has at least made some of her peers more aware of the options open to them in how they want to be involved in their communities.
“I had a friend I ran into that I graduated high school with, and she said she’d never cared about local government, knew nothing about it, didn’t realize we had a village board,” Moran said. “Then she said, ‘I started to look into it once you were running and when you won I became super excited and nerdy about it,’ and that’s so cool to hear.”