“Increasing voter education in various proposed policies to solve issues that are nonpartisan will help students understand how important it is to vote.”
Hemanth Tadepalli (’23, CS) will join 24 other students on the Michigan Department of State’s Collegiate Student Advisory Task Force, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced April 22.
The task force is charged with determining and implementing recommendations to improve voter education and engagement among young people on college and university campuses statewide.
“This is a critical time in our nation’s democracy, and it is vital that student voices are at the table,” Benson said in a news release. “The task force will play an important role empowering and engaging student voters across Michigan to ensure their voices are heard on Election Day and beyond. I look forward to their recommendations and supporting their work to improve voter education, engagement and participation among young people.”
The students were selected from a pool of nearly 200 applicants. Tadepalli is the only Kettering student on the task force, which represents 18 community colleges, colleges and universities.
He said he pursued the task force appointment after serving in various positions at different levels of government. His experience includes serving as a representative appointed by the mayor on the Troy City Planning Commission, working as deputy campaign manager for Troy Mayor Ethan Baker, and interning with the Sierra Club, where he was the liaison to U.S. Sen. Gary Peters’ office.
“These experiences involved lots of research and constituent services, which ranged from environmental policy analysis to many social issues people were facing,” Tadepalli said. “I learned what issues citizens were facing and understood what steps are to be taken to protect the future of democracy. I wanted to be a part of the task force so I can act as a bridge between faculty, staff and students at the University and the state department of Michigan.”
Two Kettering classes, The Flint Water Crisis and Math for Social Justice, also inspired him to apply for the task force.
“These two classes really influenced me to take action in informing students of issues we have happening in our city, state and country, and the importance of voting for leaders and bills that impact us greatly,” Tadepalli said. “Increasing voting participation and turnout on campus is one of my goals as I get appointed into this prestigious position. I also wanted to join the task force so I can give back to the community and create a positive and protected impact for future generations of voters.”
He said he also wants to increase voter education on campus so students can get an understanding of how bills and policies affect them and why they matter for the future.
To be selected for the task force is an honor, Tadepalli said, and he already has ideas to take to the group.
“Kettering being a STEM school, many students are focused on the various laws and regulations regarding sustainability, the environment, space and technology,” he said. “Increasing voter education in various proposed policies to solve issues that are nonpartisan will help students understand how important it is to vote.”
After graduation, Tadepalli wants to pursue a Master’s degree in Cybersecurity or Management, but he also hopes to serve in a political office, which he believes can work hand-in-hand.
“This will range from anything to serving my local city constituents on the City Council or running for state office,” he said. “At the same time, I want to continue to work in the cybersecurity field. With threats rising on a daily basis and with corporations taking a hit with data privacy and protection, it is important that there are people that serve to protect the line of cyber defense. Importantly, election integrity and keeping elections secure are vital. This is where cybersecurity comes into play, and I want to play a role in this.”