Tuesdays with T4A: Sara McKnight (04/01/14)

[column size=”1-3″ style=”0″ last=”0″][staff name=”Sara McKnight” position=”Director of Communications and Research | T4A.org” img=”/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Sara-McKnight.jpg”]Sara is the newest member of the T4A.org team and has joined as Director of Research and Communications. Prior to T4A.org, she worked in recruiting and people operations for the bay area based genomics start-up, Counsyl. Sara is a graduate of Occidental College where she studied Economics and Politics. Within the political realm, Sara is particularly passionate about education rights. Sara lives in San Francisco.[/staff][/column]

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[spoiler title=”Where did you grow up, and what do you remember most about it?” open=”1″ style=”1″ color=”#b6e400″]I grew up mostly in Los Angeles, but was born in South Carolina and lived there until I was 9 years old. South Carolina was probably the most unique experience and I remember taking full advantage of living in the country. We had five acres of land and a few of our neighbors had pastures on their property with lots of animals. My best friend growing up had 15 dogs and our next-door neighbor had a llama. I also remember playing hide in seek in our creek in the backyard and looking up from my cereal one morning to find a horse standing right in our kitchen window. Los Angeles was definitely a different type of environment, but I loved being in the heart of California (sorry, SF natives!) and having so much culture and excitement around me. California has my heart now though! Even though my parents have moved back to the south, I haven’t been able to leave the Golden State :)[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What was your first job?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#daee00″]My siblings and I were very entrepreneurial as kids. Along with our best friend who lived down the street, we had countless lemonade stands, gave roller blading lessons to neighborhood kids, sold greeting cards, and even tried to start our own magazine. One Super Bowl Sunday we went around the neighborhood collecting bets on the game. Our neighbor who was a retired cop gently told us that what we were doing was illegal but chose not to turn in a bunch of 5th graders for illegal gambling. Aside from these early ventures though, my first “real” job was working for my city’s Little League snack bar. I probably ate more food that I sold, but it definitely taught me accountability and responsibility.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your first political memory?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]My first political memory was the 2000 presidential election. I was in 5th grade and I remember for some reason I had decided that I wanted Gore to win and got in an argument about it with one of my classmates. Neither of us had any political knowledge and I remember her asking me “Well, would you rather be bushy or gory?” Bushy definitely sounded better, but I stuck to my guns![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your favorite book?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#ffc600″]I always hate this question because I’m definitely one of those people that doesn’t have a favorite book. I’ve always loved to read and would take a book with me everywhere when I was growing up. The books that have probably been most influential for me though are the Harry Potter series. To me, the world that J.K. Rowling created was so amazing and I desperately wanted to be a part of it. I totally expected to get a Hogwarts letter when I turned 11 (I know, way too old to believe that), something my sister and brother make fun of me for to this day. Most recently though, I read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tart. Definitely recommend![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”Who is your role model and why?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I don’t really like to pick one, because I feel like there are so many people who have had such strong impacts on my life but the first person that comes to my mind is my grandmother. She is probably the hardest working, strongest woman I know. She grew up with three brothers so she’s tough as nails and also overcame being diagnosed with polio when she was young. I think she’s also who I get my stubbornness from. I’ve never seen someone so defiantly refuse to use a walker 🙂 She has also taught me perseverance. She has never let anyone stop her from doing what she wants and will achieve her goals no matter how much of an uphill battle it may be.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”As you look at your community, city/state/country, how do you view your role/responsibility as a citizen? Within that context, how do you view your role as citizen in relation to our government and democracy?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I think it’s my responsibility to be knowledgeable and engaged in what’s going on and, more importantly, to participate. I hear lots of people complaining about the direction of the country, yet they say they can’t be bothered to vote. I think that it’s extremely important to have a knowledgeable electorate but also that we put this knowledge to good use and act on our beliefs.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”Just about everyone (regardless of political affiliation) sees a large gap between our politics (Washington DC as well as state capitals) and the reality on the issues we face as a country. Why do you think that is? What do you think can be done to close that gap?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I think a lot of it is partisanship. Government leaders are too focused on “beating” the other side that they’ll let really important issues go unresolved just to avoid any compromise. What I’ve learned from working at T4A.org is that we need to encourage leaders to begin with the areas on which they have common ground and work from there. There are things that Democrats and Republicans agree on, we just forget about them in the polarization battle. I also think that Congress isn’t always a true representation of the people in our society. I think we need to continue to work to get diversity in our government so that all voices are represented.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”Are political parties becoming less relevant today, particularly for young adults? Whatever your answer, why do you think that is?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]As a young adult, I’d have to say no. I think that the polarization that happens in government trickles down to citizens as well. When talking to my friends, I hear the exact same comments and criticisms that I hear from politicians. They seem to vote heavily along party lines and care less about the issues or beliefs that the candidates have and more about ensuring that the party they support wins. I know research shows that the millennial generation is becoming increasingly independent, I’m just not sure I’ve seen it play out in practice yet.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your favorite journey?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]While it’s frustrating right now, I think figuring out what I’m going do with my life and what impact I could have on the world will be the best journey. I feel like I’m on the verge of something exciting, so I guess I’ll just have to see where the journey takes me next![/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]In keeping with the Harry Potter theme, I’d have to say J.K. Rowling. I’m envious of her imagination and I think being in her head for just one day would give me enough creativity to last the rest of my life.[/spoiler]

[spoiler title=”What is your proudest moment?” open=”0″ style=”1″ color=”#fff000″]I’m not sure I’ve really had a life-changing, defining moment in my life yet so for now I’ll say graduating from college. I went to a small liberal arts school so we just had one big graduation for everyone. I remember walking into the amphitheater with the music playing and everyone cheering and feeling like I was about to start crying. I couldn’t have predicted how great it would feel in the moment to look back on everything I had accomplished in four years and know how hard I had worked to get there.[/spoiler]


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