Young politico gets fired up by gun violence
If you saw Phoebe outside her school over the last few weeks, chances are it was at a political event. Fired up by gun violence, the graduating Alta-Aurelia senior says it’s people her age that need to stand up and make their voices heard to move change.
“After the Parkland shooting, I believed that since I wasn’t old enough to vote, I didn’t have a voice,” the then 17-year-old said. “After seeing Parkland victims speak up about what they’re passionate about, it drove me to want to make a difference and show I have a voice even before 18,” she said. She turned 18 right after her interview with the Pilot-Tribune.
At the Heartland Forum on BVU’s campus in March, she challenged a presidential candidate to provide specifics on ending the epidemic of gun violence in America.
At Beto O’Rourke’s appearance in Better Day Cafe earlier in April, the red head was front and center, wearing her Beto O’Rourke t-shirt—the former Texas Congressman is her top choice right now.
“He talked to families directly after tragedy,” in a Santa Fe, N.M., shooting, Feis said. “I started looking into him and really liked him.”
Women’s rights, immigration reform, climate change and healthcare reform are high on her list.
“Everyone’s future depends on (climate change action),” she said. “I will be alive to see the effects of it. There’s too little action.” She remains inspired by what she has read about the late Bobby Kennedy’s work to alleviate poverty.
But gun control remains her top priority. “It does affect me, I’m in high school—there’s always that chance,” she said. “I don’t think any kid should go to school and be scared they won’t come home.”
Feis was in sixth grade when the Sandy Hook massacre happened. She was 16 when the Parkland, Fla., shootings happened.
“It really made me think about how unfair it was that I got to turn 16 and go to college when these kids will never have that chance,” said Feis. “The survivors will always have to deal with trauma from something that could have been prevented.”
The stereotype of young people not participating in democracy is a self-fulfilling prophecy, she says, and one that disappoints her as a fresh graduate. So she’s being active to make a difference.
But she can’t blame them, as she doesn’t feel particularly heard by her government either. She’s discouraged when she’s written off as too young to have an opinion.
“Just because I might not be old, doesn’t mean I haven’t been exposed to things or have opinions,” the student said. “It’s our future, I think we should be heard.”
As the bearer of one of the most coveted voting blocs for presidential candidates, Feis has come to realize by getting engaged outside of voting that her voice means more in politics.
She doesn’t claim to know what the solutions are. “I just know we won’t find solutions if we never talk about it,” she said.
The politico is deciding between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ghettysburg College in Pennsylvania and George Mason University outside of Washington, D.C., for college.
The major of choice was obvious to her: political science.