Leaving It All On the Field

Leaving It All On the Field

I want to start by introducing myself. My name is Christopher M. Wheetley. I am very excited to be one of the student bloggers this summer for The Washington Center. I hope that if you are reading this post, you will visit again to keep up on my adventures in D.C. Whether you are a prospective or current student enrolled in The Washington Center, a family member of mine, a friend of mine, or someone that just stumbled upon this site, I hope that my posts will give you a glimpse of what life in D.C., particularly as it pertains to The Washington Center, is like for me. If there is one thing I have learned so far after my first week being here, it is that no matter what the destination in life (personal or professional) there are a million different paths to get there. By reading my blog you have the opportunity to walk in my steps. I encourage you to glean what you can and make the most of your own walk.


Here is a little bit about the road to D.C. for me:


Leaving it all on the Field


It was the end of my junior year in high school. Elections for the first student council at Agape Christian High School were underway. Of the six candidates for student body president, I believed myself to be the obvious choice. I had always been innately interested in government, politics, and law - this was not unknown to my classmates. In fact, when the announcement went out that we would be forming a student council at our school, nearly everyone in my class looked at me and smiled. They knew as well as I did that this was my time to shine.


Since that was the first election of its type and we were all figuring out the process, no substantial campaigning occurred – or so I thought. When the votes were counted, the adviser announced, “Rachel Renshaw will be the first student body president of Agape!” If one word could describe my feelings at that point, it would be stunned. I realized that I had overestimated the obvious. I made a promise to myself that day that in any future ventures, I would always go the extra mile, try my hardest, and leave it all on the field.


Student Body President Rachel Renshaw (left), her sister Jessica (right) and myself (center) - 2012


“Win or lose, when this is all over I do not want to look back with any regrets.” These were my words to the other four candidates on my ticket running with me for the Executive Branch of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIU). Yes, three years after my defeat in high school for student body president I was running for student body president of my university. I had two years of experience as a senator in USG, served on the finance committee, and chaired the Internal Affairs Committee. I filled the rest of my slate, positions for vice president, chief of staff, executive assistant, and treasurer, with the very best USG Senators and students at SIU.


Myself (far right) and the rest of my slate of candidates (from left to right): Stephen Smith, Allison Campbell, Matt Schmidlin, and Mershon Caissie.


We began planning months in advance to the allotted 10 day campaign season. My slate obtained 23% more signatures on our petition to be added to the ballot than our competitors. We also blew them out of the water with over 400% more “likes” on our Facebook page. To greater inform ourselves of how, if elected, we could work with the administration, we met with four of the eight deans of the academic colleges. Additionally, we met with the dean of students, directors of numerous administrative departments, and the provost of the university. We also reached out to the community and met with the local mayor and the director of the chamber of commerce. My campaign raised and used the maximum $400 campaign fund to promote our candidacy and our platform. Most importantly, during the ten official days of campaigning, the other four candidates on my ticket and myself attended practically every student group meeting or event that was held. We talked about our experience, our platform, and our commitment to serving them.


My running mate, Matt Schmidlin and I posing with the SIU mascots after attending a baseball game.


This time, I was a junior in college. My slate and I impatiently waited in front of a computer monitor for the election results. The results appeared – we lost. This time though, it was not because of a lack of preparation, dedication, or will. Our opponent was a very competent individual who had run a strategic campaign as well. He and some of the members on his slate were members of the Greek Life community which represents a large portion of the active and involved students on campus. Although my ticket lost, I can honestly say that we contributed our very best efforts – we left everything on the field. Sometimes in life, you can’t win. In my case, I lost twice! But I do not look at it as “losing.” Instead, I try to focus on the positive outcomes.


If I had won the election, I would have stayed in town this summer and worked in the USG office to prepare for the upcoming year. But because that particular door closed, I then had nothing holding be back from accepting the scholarship I had been offered to enroll in the Washington Center. Obviously, I have since been accepted and am interning at Marzulla Law, LLC, a private law firm that litigates claims in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. I now have the opportunity to apply myself to this new venture. When I return home in August, if there is one thing I want to be able to tell my friends and family about my experience in the nation’s capital, it would be that I did my best and left it all on the field.



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