Spotlight: New grad looks to political path
Cassie Creasy grew up in a family that never talked politics. Her parents never made a big deal over elections or party affiliations — something she enjoyed.
"I was never expected to think a certain way or believe anything in particular," Creasy said.
But a high-school lesson on the Vietnam War from her favorite teacher, Mr. Mazzulla, started her down a political path. The Vietnam veteran's discussions of how the war affected the world and affected U.S. politics had the now 22-year-old hooked.
"There's something very intriguing about the way politics affects the world so greatly," she said.
Over the last four years, Creasy has put her political passion to good use at the University of Iowa — being active in the UI Student Government and starting the state's first student congress her junior year. After participating in a national leadership program in 2009, Creasy helped to bring a similar program to the UI by sharing her experience with UI officials, said Tara Edberg, the assistant director for leadership programs in the UI Office of Student Life.
"She's always proven to be a leader among her peers," Edberg said.
Politics has even found Creasy in the presence of a former president, though the encounter, she said, was nothing special.
While volunteering for the 2007 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign, Creasy met former president Bill Clinton after his speech in the IMU.
"We shook hands, and he said something generic," Creasy said. "I wish I could say I had words of wisdom bestowed upon me, but I don't think it was that romantic."
Nonetheless, her interest in politics has not wavered.
She added an international-studies major after she became interested in political issues facing Eastern Asia. This past summer, she traveled to the Tianjin province in China and completed her senior project about the area.
Much of her interest is focused on the human rights of children in the area, such as education and clean water.
"There is a lot of political strife over there right now," she said. "If I could do anything, I would work for the basic rights for every child over there."
Creasy continues to carry a memento of her love of the Chinese culture, sporting a green bracelet of Buddhist prayer beads on her left wrist, which she wears daily. She said they are meant to keep her calm and help her remain focused.
"I bought it from a street vendor," she said. "I doubt it's real."
This week marked her last week of an internship with the Stanley Foundation in Muscatine, a nonprofit organization that focuses on global and regional problems.
"This has wrapped everything I've ever learned up into a job," she said. "It's amazing."
Though Creasy said she's not sure exactly what her next move will be following graduation this month, mother Alexis Jahnke said she's not worried about her daughter.
"Whatever she decides she's going to do, she'll be wonderful," Jahnke said.
Creasy said that where ever she winds up after graduation, she will carry with her bits of wisdom she picked up from a UI Zen class. The biggest lesson, she said, is always believing and knowing "everything is the way it should be."
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