First in the nation for the first time in my life

Reeya Patel, D.O.'18, & friends caucus
Reeya Patel, D.O.’18, and her fellow students didn’t pass up the opportunity to caucus for the first — and possibly only — time.

I’ve been in Iowa ever since I was five and I never really understood the significance of the Iowa Caucus until this year. Growing up, I was never interested in politics and wasn’t able to actually vote until the last elections anyway. Coming to DMU, where a majority of the people are not from Iowa, I realized how important and exciting the Iowa Caucus really is. This year, I realized how significant being first in the nation is. It’s kind of amazing and, being an Iowan, I really liked having the spotlight on us.

I was never interested in politics until coming to medical school and joining SOMA. I’m still learning a lot as I work with SOMA and plan for DO Day on the Hill. The presidential elections have added a twist.

At first I didn’t know if I wanted to go caucus because we had an exam the next morning. But, after Caucus 101, I learned just how important and impactful our vote is and I became more encouraged to go. Honestly, I didn’t want to go at first because I was afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing or just not knowing the facts well enough. Caucus 101 definitely made me feel more comfortable.

Then Monday came along.

I study in the commons so I overhear people often. All day I heard students asking other students whether or not they would be going to the caucus. Most students would respond “Yes! When else do I get to be first in the nation?” This got me more and more excited about caucusing. Sadly, all day I had fought a cough and cold and then spiked a fever in the afternoon. It made it hard to study for my exam the next morning, but I figured I could tough it out and go caucus.

I went with several of my friends. We got there at 6:40 p.m. I now know why they say to arrive early because we had to wait outside. I thought they would be a little bit stricter when it came to registration, but all I did was sign a paper and show them my ID. We entered the Central Campus auditorium and it was basically split into Bernie and Clinton. We were all excited and started a chant for Bernie. They then made us sit patiently as they counted everyone. Once they announced that the O’Malley group did not have enough people, everyone just started screaming for Bernie or Hillary. After the counting they announced that Bernie won six to four.

After the caucus, I went back to school to carry on in the day in the life of a typical medical student — to study. All in all, it was great experience! I’ll be in Washington, D.C., for two months this summer and plan to follow the campaigning there!

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