Graduate school is challenging. The coursework is demanding, the material can be difficult, the hours can be exhausting; but at the University of Chicago, the people make all the difference.

I was reminded of this again a few weeks ago while sitting in the Logan Center for Performing Arts watching David Axelrod interview his longtime friend and former boss, Barack Obama. The two sat down for a live taping of Axelrod’s podcast, The Axe Files, and spent over an hour talking about the former President’s personal life and political predictions, trading stories about their adventure together from the Illinois State Senate to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And for the duration of the 90 minutes, the same thought kept creeping into mind. People make all the difference.

President Obama touched on specific policy issues that were addressed to varying degrees during his time in the Oval Office. He spoke about how running for, and eventually becoming, President of the United States would forever alter the way in which his family interacted. But perhaps the most poignant message for me was his call to action for young people to continue to seek change and strive towards a better society for every American, not just a select few.

It is no secret that the last few years have been a tumultuous time for the American political system – I saw it first hand while managing a state legislature campaign in Ohio during the 2016 election cycle. But since coming to the University of Chicago and specifically, the Harris School of Public Policy, I feel rejuvenated. This new energy stems from the focus placed on developing smart and effective policy. It stems from being able to attend events like this, having access to former Presidents and top political advisors, in addition to the impressive list of regular speakers on campus. And it stems from learning and working alongside passionate young leaders who truly care about making the world a better place.

Interested in listening to the episode? Head over to The Axe Files website here

Harris students axe files
Harris students at the Axe Files taping.