March 21, 2012

Pioneer Makes His Way into World of Politics


By Fiona Corner
Sports Information Assistant

 

PORTLAND, Ore. - Anthony Ruiz, class of 2013, came to Lewis & Clark for many of the same reasons most student athletes do: He liked the small class sizes, the academics are nationally recognized and the players/coaches he met on his recruiting trip were inspiring, welcoming and genuinely wanted him to succeed.

A two-year member of the football team, Ruiz came to call Lewis & Clark home after a visit from assistant coach Phil Magbanua. "After playing football, baseball and varsity bowling in high school and not getting any scholarship offers I thought my days of playing college sports were over," said Ruiz "But luckily enough Coach Phil, who used to work at UNLV, was in Las Vegas. He came to my high school and introduced me to L&C. Once I visited I knew that Palatine Hill was the place for me." 

Having played football since the age of eight, continuing his passion for the game was important for Ruiz. Coming to L&C he knew that the program needed work and being part of that transformation seemed like a good choice. "Seeing the change that has happened over the past three years has been amazing," said Ruiz.

Besides playing football, Ruiz is also a member of the Student Alumni Association, where he serves as an ambassador. His responsibilities include representing the college, facilitating connections between students and alumni and hosting events.

Currently a double major in Political Science and Rhetoric & Media Studies, Ruiz has pursued his political passions off the field. His interest in politics dates back to the 2008 Presidential election. In 2007 staffers for then Senator Obama presented his campaign at Ruiz's high school in Las Vegas. "They gave us a speech about what Obama was about and I was sold," said Ruiz.

He subsequently started the Students for Barack Obama club at his school and then volunteered for the campaign. "Hearing his message and seeing the diversity in his campaign made me believe in change."

Ruiz continued down the political road volunteering on Senator Harry Reid's reelection campaign in 2010. His experiences in Las Vegas led him to study in Washington D.C. in the Fall 2011 where he interned under Senator Reid, who was reelected as the Senate Majority Leader.

"Deciding to go to D.C. was difficult because I knew I wouldn't be able to play football. In the end it was worth it. I bumped elbows with the best minds in D.C.," said Ruiz. "It will be something I will carry with me for a really long time."

Living a block from the Supreme Court and experiencing the culture first hand was an invaluable experience for someone who loves campaigns and politics. "If you want to work in D.C. later, like I do, staffers will only hire those with hill experience. I now have that experience."

Ruiz has successfully brought that passion back to the West Coast and is currently working as the campaign manager for Rob Solomon, who is running for Beaverton City Council Division Three. Solomon's team initially reached out to colleges in the area and after the Lewis & Clark Political Science Department sent an email to all its majors Ruiz interviewed for the position and was hired. Ruiz has since brought in ten other L&C students and plans to use their energy to involve the youth of Beaverton in the campaign.

Ruiz has found that one of his biggest challenges, as a campaign manager thus far, is that campaigns cost too much money. "This is really a value that Rob and I share. We are not naïve and we understand that campaigns cost money," said Ruiz. "We aren't taking any contributions over $999. We want to run a clean, efficient and positive campaign. We are not going to have money because we can't raise money, but because we don't want to."

While Ruiz won't speculate about his political ambitions due to his intense focus on the campaign, he does recognize the tremendous chance he has been given. "It is a fantastic opportunity. Not many 20 year-olds can say they have been a campaign manager."

No matter what Ruiz chooses to do with his life, Magbanua knows he'll do it with the same drive and passion he saw in a young Ruiz nearly four years ago.

"I remember when I visited A.J. for the first time, he knew very little about Lewis & Clark. Several months later he was brought to tears when he received his acceptance letter. At the time, we both knew that this experience would change his life. A.J. is a hard worker and a competitor. His inate drive will carry him through life. I am very proud of his accomplishments."

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