Liberal Arts student balances leadership position with busy election season

Michaela Harpster
October 13, 2020

Senior Jacob Klipstein, who was recently selected to Penn State's 2020 Student Homecoming Court, is leading the College Democrats this year as the organization’s president.

Jacob Klipstein in Washington, DC
IMAGE: Provided by Jacob Klipstein

The third-generation Penn Stater is focused on the upcoming presidential election. He says the College Democrats’ main goal until Oct. 19 is getting students registered to vote. Following the voter registration deadline, the College Democrats will focus on getting students to vote in the election. To meet these goals, the organization has started doing in-person tabling to register students to vote and to get them to go to the polls. They’re also phone banking, text banking, writing letters and having meetings online.

Klipstein is majoring in political science, history, and Jewish studies. He noted that his liberal arts education is what led him on the path to become the president of the College Democrats. Specifically, he highlighted his history major as most important to shaping his beliefs. Learning about American history taught him the importance of overcoming the wrongdoings of the past to create a better future. He explained, “It has taught me that we shouldn’t feel guilty about American history, but we should feel a responsibility to improve our future. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the Holocaust and other genocides, and even seeing one or two similarities in those situations and our current environment is enough to scare me to work harder every single day.” 

Rewarding is the word that Klipstein used to sum up his Penn State experience. Both his father and grandfather attended Penn State. “I am honored to have followed in their footsteps,” he said. “ I’m just happy to have made them proud.” 

His choice to push himself academically and in his extracurriculars has largely contributed to his success. He says the most rewarding part of it all is the Penn State students he has been able to meet and serve in his time. He further explained that his time with the College Democrats has given him the opportunity to enact meaningful change as the group has worked towards helping elect county commissioners and seeing the progressive policies that followed.

Being a leader comes with challenges, and as the president of the College Democrats, Klipstein is no exception to dealing with them. “I face challenges every single day, but I have to say managing how to keep the organization in the coronavirus was more than anything I could have possibly imagined my freshmen year,” Klipstein said. “I’m just happy to be here and attempt to rise to that challenge every day.” 

While there are challenges to leading the College Democrats, especially in light of COVID-19, Klipstein says it’s worth it. “Leading the College Democrats has been the honor of my Penn State experience,” he said. He has had the privilege to work with “some of the most intelligent, empathetic, and interesting people you will meet on this campus.” Klipstein noted that the members of the College Democrats come from all sorts of challenging backgrounds, and he loves learning about what inspired them to become politically active.  

“To earn some of your best friends, to meet some of the most interesting people and to try and serve your community are all rewarding and have shown me the blessings of political organizing and especially of organizing in our country and community,” Klipstein said. “I love being a part of our local State College and Centre County community as much as I love the Penn State community.” 

Klipstein’s post-graduation plans are still up in the air, and are somewhat dependent on the outcome of the presidential election, but he is considering going into political campaigning or possibly applying to graduate or law school.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 13, 2020