Student Turns Politics into Opportunity


Catherine Hayes pictured with her father, Ron Hayes, the former Deputy Mayor of Mansfield. (Photo Courtesy of Ron Hayes)

Phoebe Sessler and Sarah Hale

Senior Catherine Hayes has turned her passion for politics and community into a promising internship. Hayes has received a position under Leonard Lance, a Republican politician campaigning for reelection as the Representative of New Jersey’s Seventh District. 

She was introduced to the opportunity by Deborah Rokosny, a history teacher here at Warren Hills.

“I thought it would be a really good opportunity to get involved in politics,” Hayes said.

Hayes has always had an active interest in government. Her father was the Deputy Mayor of Mansfield for several years as well as an avid history buff. 

This new oppurtunity has only furthered her enthusiasm for politics.

“It really shows your patriotism and dedication to your county,” said Hayes.  “Voting itself is a rite of passage but opportunities like this can also be a way to get involved even though you can’t vote. That’s a really cool chance that not a lot of people have.”

Hayes is also a member of Debate Club and attended Harvard Model Congress on a scholarship.

“The fact that I simulated part of Congress was really encouraging.  If our ideas were actually carried out, that would be just incredible,” she said.  “We know, ‘Hey we did that!’ Like that wasn’t an adult, that was a kid who came up with that idea.”

The application process for being a part of Lance’s campaign team was a breeze compared to the rest of Hayes’ schoolwork.

“I just had to submit my email.  Then I got an email from a senior from Hunterdon Central who is in touch with the head of the campaign,” said Hayes.

However, getting involved doesn’t have to be as noteworthy as directly working for a representative, according to Hayes.

“You still have a chance.  You can go out and make posters, you can sign up, find out more, encourage others who are allowed to vote and tell your parents, ‘Hey, go vote!’” Hayes said.

This internship is a stepping stone in Hayes’ plans to be a part of Congress or other major political hub.

“I want to work in the central focus of it all in D.C.,” she said.  “Lance is a federal politician, so the fact that I’m going straight to the source instead of from local to state, I think is a huge step.”

Hayes has her eyes set on her future as well as D.C., though.

“Everyone’s saying, ‘You’re probably gonna change everything and fix the government.’ Well, I’m gonna try!” said Hayes.

Hayes challenged those who feel that their vote doesn’t matter or that they’re too young to make a difference.

“You always have a chance to do it today,” Hayes said. “That’s what the youth has now.  Take a stand for yourself!”

Hayes’ position under Lance may give her a chance to directly work with him, but she is perfectly happy doing other tasks like making campaign posters.

“You should go out because what you can do can actually change everything,” she said.  “It’s like a ripple.  As soon as you touch the water it will spread out farther than you’d think.”