Tom Wheeler '09

by Nicole Ainsworth '09

Bound for Capitol Hill
“There are a lot of things we have left to fight for to become an egalitarian society,” Tom Wheeler says stoically. “There’s transgender rights, immigrant rights, animal rights, universal healthcare… the list extends. But it all comes down to this: Through power, we can make the world a better place.”

These are awfully ambitious words for a sophomore undergraduate student, but when one’s main goal in life is to make a “monumental impact” on the world, one must start dreaming early. And that’s certainly what this Seattle, Washington, native is doing.

Tom, an environmental studies major with a concentration in human sciences, policy and the environment, has some pretty set goals. His first step? To become the state representative for the 46th district (or in other words…for his hometown). Once he has established himself in the local political scene, he wants to climb the proverbial ladder as high as he can to make the changes he believes need to happen. “I’d probably abolish factory farms first,” he says, “but there are just so many issues to work for, it’s hard to decide.” Either way, Tom knows that he wants to be involved in politics because “a direct connection to power gets things done.”

Naturally, in order to “get things done,” one must have more than just a handful of charismatic dreams—one must have motivation. As the founder and president of the Horace Greely Debate Union, the treasurer of the Slow Food club (a group devoted to conscious eating), a teacher’s assistant, the co-director of the Student Campus Greening Fund, and the Student Senate Sophomore Representative, it certainly seems Tom has this type of motivation. From his perspective, however, this alone is not his strongest quality. “My sympathy for people and causes is usually what motivates me… so I’d say that is my best characteristic.”

Tom cites his father as the source of his initial interest in politics – he fondly remembers their friendly debates over dinner during his childhood. “It wasn’t that we were on opposite sides of the spectrum about any one particular issue,” Tom smiles, “it’s just that we always found a way to debate... I learned a lot about the world during those conversations.”

After GMC, Tom wants to attend law school in Washington, a step he hopes will help him get into politics and work toward his dreams.

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