#CivicsForUS: Youth Representation and Development — Alexandra Henderson’s Professional Journey

Alexandra Henderson is a student from the Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship inaugural cohort. Prior to working as a Legislative Aide for the Louisiana Senate, she worked as a Senate Page. From Alexandra’s experience, Senate Pages work in the bill room and help make a senator’s day easier by pulling bills, getting them coffee, getting their copies, and assisting them in the chamber. As an aide, she worked directly with her senator on whatever he needed help with which was social media coordination and releasing information about his work to his constituents. Most recently, Alexandra was promoted to Communications Director for her senator.

Armed with lessons, knowledge, and experience from the Youth as Civic Experts Fellowship program, we sat down with her to discuss how her fellowship experience has helped guide her professional journey.

Tell us more about being a legislative aide/Senate page. How did you learn about this opportunity; what are you doing each day; what are you learning?

As a page, and now an aide, I learned that you must be super quick on your feet, and that your instincts are your best friend. If you can make it in Louisiana politics, you can thrive in any political scene. On a day-to-day basis, I spend my time editing videos, going to committee meetings, and helping in the Senate chamber. I learned about this through friends, and connections I made through school and BSU. A funny thing I have recently learned: I am the youngest aide to be working right now, everyone else is in law school/college.

What is your current position as Communications Director like?

As a Communications Director, I manage the writing and execution of all of his press releases, and I personally make all of his posts for Facebook. I am very adamant to ensure that my senator is the person who speaks the loudest and advocates for his district. My goal is to hear about him weekly during legislative session next year.

Why should young people have access to opportunities like being a legislative aide/Senate page?

This opportunity has allowed me to gain so much knowledge before going to college, where I will learn about much of the stuff I am already experiencing. I also get to make personal relationships with lawmakers, which is so amazing, people who don’t know them think they aren’t like regular people. They are like regular moms, dads, grandparents, and professionals. Also, if you’re like me going into a major like mass communications, you want to be able to have experience working with social media, and lawmakers, because that is a huge part of the industry

Why is it important for students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color to have access to opportunities like this?

We have so much representation here, and it’s amazing. There are tons of people of color working as aides, and it’s important because you can go to them for advice or if you need to talk to someone. On my first day as an aide, I walked on the chamber floor and saw more than one person that looked like me, and it was so refreshing. As BIPOC people aim to become professionals, it is so important to have opportunities like this, you gain invaluable experiences, and you can apply it to everything you do. It inspires people to run for office or bring their talents to the campaign trail.

What skills or experiences from the fellowship helped you this far?

Being able to write a press release, I never thought I would have to do that again(and luckily, we have an office that does it for us). Leadership skills, as a former team captain and red team mentor, I learned that you must show that you are ready for responsibility, which I did. I am trusted with someone’s image, and I take great pride in the work I do. Everything about social media, I can contribute so much more because I can run a social media page, and I love being able to plan out posts like I used to.

Check out this statement Alexandra helped write for Former Louisiana State Senator JP Morell.

What’s next for you after being a legislative aide? What are some of your goals?

Well, I will be attending Louisiana State University in the fall to earn my B.A. in Mass Communication(with a concentration in political communication) and will attend law school after that. I plan on working on some campaigns next election cycle, and hopefully gain more experience. I will always try to become an aide during session. My end goal is to run campaigns as a campaign manager. Maybe y’all will see me on the news one day!

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