Cody Hounanian is ranked #44 of 69

Digital Director of Student Debt Crisis. Social media/content curator & creative mind. Political geek & advocate for student loan borrowers

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My political story

I began my career in political involvement while studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I worked with Congresswoman Lois Capps to mobilize student voters, and support education initiatives, such as Prop 30. Her 2012 campaign was the most difficult in her career, and engaging millennials was key to her success. Our community's victory was my first experience with the powerful voice organized young people have. After graduating, I returned to Los Angeles to follow plans to attend law school. Saddled with my own student debt, I was called to action by the growing student debt crisis and the policies affecting Americans’ abilities to access higher education. My work with Student Debt Crisis began in June, 2014 as a way to bring positive reform to the nation’s education system that had provided me with so many bright opportunities. As Digital Director, I have been able to develop our organization’s social media strategy, and digital infrastructure, and have created original pieces that have spread the important message of student debt reform.

Why I deserve a Netroots Nation Scholarship

A Netroots scholarship would be important to me because I wish to understand the student debt crisis on a national level. Our members share their experiences with us, but to personally connect with grassroots organizers from across the country would give me a more comprehensive perspective on this important national crisis. Also, my work in digital space has surprised me. As a millennial I believed that I had a complete grasp of social media, internet trends, and a useful digital toolkit, but I have learned that there is much more territory that I have yet to explore. The opportunity to learn from experts on how to better utilize the ever-growing digital toolkit would positively shape my political engagement forever.

What first inspired me to get involved

My inspiration to get involved in politics stemmed from the stigmatic attitude that young people have an ineffectual voice in politics. This perspective is the most problematic view of millennials, who are in my own opinion extremely socially conscious. I took on the challenge of mobilizing UCSB students, knowing that their potential to create change was enormous. That year, student voter participation was impressive, and the representative's reelection was my first demonstration of young political engagement- even at it's most fundament level. With this early victory behind me, I continue to be inspired by the improved future millennials are tirelessly working to create.

The blog post I am most proud of

The blog I am most proud of is a piece I cowrote with Robert Cruickshank, Senior Campaign Manager at Democracy for America, titled "The Case for Student Loan Debt". It was rewarding watching the story catch legs, as my words truly connected with borrowers' and all readers alike. I couldn't truly understand the power of a blogger's voice without experiencing the traction for myself.

More about my political involvement

Yes I am an active DFA member. I am the Digital Director of Student debt crisis. Some of the work that I do to stay active in this space is speaking to our members who are in need of assistance. Guiding them with just the knowledge that I have learned working on this topic often has huge implications for people's finances and lives.

How I've gotten others involved

One of the most rewarding ways that I am able to get others involved is through reading the testimonial stories that our members share with us on our site. Often, offering small advice can have major implications for student loan borrowers' lives. This is amazingly impactful, and it leads to many of our members desperately wanting to get vocal at their local events, sign petitions, and generally look for opportunities to participate in the movement.

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