While at Harvard, Eva Guidarini served as the student President of the IOP. After graduating in 2015, she joined the Policy Team on Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign, and is now working on Facebook’s government and politics team. She graduated from Harvard College in 2015.
Harvard Political Review: So today’s interview is a part of the IOP 50th Anniversary Celebration. Since we are celebrating the history of the IOP, I think a great way to start off would be if you could describe your role as the IOP former President to me and how it related to your Harvard life.
Eva Guidarini: Well, the IOP was super important to me. I spent so much time there during my four years at the college and was active since my freshman year. I owe so much of who I am to the IOP, and the IOP has led me on this career path. I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am today without the help of the IOP. The IOP helped me get internships for all of the summers that I attended the college and all of my experiences there really helped me grow a person. I think one of the coolest things was that I got to speak at the Freshman Convocation for the Class of 2018. It was interesting for me because I am Republican and was able to represent the IOP on Harvard’s campus, a place that is normally known for being super liberal. At the Convocation ceremony, I shared some of the most important things that I learned here. I remember back when I was a freshman I would have conversations with people and we would ask each other questions until we found that we had something in common. Then we would focus on this commonality and just ignore the things we disagreed on. I actually now realize that one of the great things about Harvard was the way that people came from so many different backgrounds and cultures, so instead of finding only what you have in common with other students it’s also very useful and interesting to be able to talk about what is different about both of you and defend your respective viewpoints.
HPR: You said that you are Republican and that because of this your viewpoints were often different than those of your peers. So how do you feel your identity as a Republican student from West Virginia and as a female has impacted the way that you approach politics and approach this field?
EG: Being Republican at Harvard meant that I always had to stay on top of things. Whenever I was in a debate, I always had to truly understand the issue and back up my views. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be the only person in the room supporting one side of a particular issue. Especially being from an underrepresented state, West Virginia. I really wanted to look out for students from less common states. I think it’s very cool that Harvard had so many viewpoints and cultures and that everyone can represent their own background. It was great and such an interesting experience to be best friends with and love people with whom I fundamentally disagreed with on many topics. Harvard and the IOP allowed me to grow and be able to interact with people who I might not have known how to get along with because we come from fundamentally different backgrounds and communities. I want to make sure that people from underrepresented states feel welcome and comfortable coming here even though their political beliefs might be in the minority.
…You always need to be able to fully support your opinion and viewpoint. It does make life interesting at Harvard because you learn to get along with people who have different backgrounds and are fundamentally different that you are. It was always interesting for me as the president of the IOP because I was a Republican president and was able to learn so much about effective debating strategies and supporting my opinion, which really helped me grow as a person and get involved with the things I do now.
HPR: You worked as a Policy Coordinator on the Carly for President campaign. Would you be able to describe your role on this project? What was your favorite part of being involved in this project?
EG: That’s really difficult. I didn’t have a particular favorite part or extremely specific role when working on the Campaign. I was one of two Policy Coordinators, so I was able to learn a lot about the campaign process, especially on a smaller scale, and I really enjoyed this experience. Every week I would be doing something different and be experiencing the different sides of a campaign. I remember one time I was organizing paperwork and doing a lot of administrative stuff, and the next day I would be on the road for the campaign talking to incredibly accomplished politicians about how we should fix America’s biggest problems.
HPR: You said that you were able to talk with politicians about America’s greatest problems. What do you think America’s greatest problems are and how do you propose fixing them?
EG: Wow. I think that the election system and voting is a somewhat flawed system nationwide. I think we need to adopt a plan more like California’s when voting for representatives because it is more equal and allows more people to get involved in the process.
HPR: Do you have any opinions on voting procedures, especially related to our current generation?
EG: Yes! I think it is very important for young people to vote because their vote makes a difference, and it is extremely important for them to be represented in the political sphere. However, there is a lot of red tape that they have to get around when registering to vote, which is something that I also believe could be changed to aid the system.
HPR: What is the most influential project that you worked on that made you decide to pursue political science and government and led you on this current life path?
EG: Just overall my participation in the IOP and all of the connections and people that I’ve met through this organization has helped me decide. All of the internships that I’ve done have allowed me to experience diverse sides of politics. I have worked on two campaigns now, one last year and now the Carly for President campaign. I also did this program where I went to D.C. for the summer and everyday a group of students and I were exposed to politics in the D.C. area and got to meet and eat with famous people, for example we had a meeting with Ben Bernanke.
HPR: So it seems that you’ve gained a lot of experience and direction from your summer internships. As a recently graduated college student, what advice do you have for current students involved the IOP?
EG: I’d say to get more involved and get to know the people in charge very well. I had such a great experience being in the IOP because I had a lot of friends in the organization, and I was able to meet people who helped me get the summer internships and enjoy my IOP experience at Harvard.
HPR: Where do you see yourself ten or fifteen years from now? And is there anything that you would like to accomplish over the next couple years?
EG: Oh! I don’t have a set plan right now for exactly what I want to do in the future. I know that right now I am really enjoying working on the Carly campaign and it is truly such an enriching experience. Currently, I get out of bed everyday excited about what the day will hold. I would like to be able to work with more campaigns under the Republican Party, and maybe I could help the Republican party redefine and reestablish itself as a strong, positive party in the United States. I’m looking forward to the next years for sure.
Image credit: Eva Guidarini