Taking Initiative

Claire McMorrisCorvallis native Claire McMorris pursues a leadership path

When Claire McMorris lists everything she’s involved in on the Oregon State campus, it’s hard to believe she’s just a sophomore.

The Corvallis High School graduate is majoring in political science while also pursuing minors in music and Spanish. She sings in Bella Voce, an allfemale choir of 40 undergraduates that traveled to Brazil last summer for an international music conference. Through programs in the College of Liberal Arts, she’s been to Washington, D.C. twice. She is a University Honors College student. She’s worked with the Associated Students of Oregon State University (ASOSU) and the Daily Barometer, Oregon State’s student newspaper. And she works as a legislative outreach assistant for Oregon  State’s Government Relations Office.

“I’ve been really lucky,” she says with a bright smile. But then she backtracks. “I think a lot of it is that I take the initiative to find the opportunities.”

It all started when she was at Corvallis High School. McMorris was selected to attend Oregon Girls State. The program, sponsored by the American Legion, teaches students how government works and develops leadership and citizenship skills. Participants learn what it’s like to run for office, represent the public and create legislation.

“We got to tour the capitol in Salem and do a mock senate and house, and I think that’s what got me interested in politics,” she says. “I thought ‘Hey, we can create something here that will affect a whole group of people for the better.’”
During her experiences in high school, McMorris became troubled by the lack of women holding public office in America. She views it as her duty to close the gap.

“If a woman has any inclination toward leadership, it’s her obligation to pursue it,” she says. “We need to start making changes now.”

McMorris has. She interned for state Sen. Sara Gelser’s campaign last summer, where she started networking and making connections. She continues to meet people through her government relations student position, where she aids Director Jock Mills and keeps a close eye on Oregon State’s interests during the legislative session.

Despite a busy schedule of classes and activities, McMorris still manages to spend so much time in Benton Hall that her friends in the music program are surprised she’s not a music major. Besides singing in Bella Voce, McMorris plays the flute in the Corvallis-OSU Symphony.

“Music is something I could never give up no matter how busy I get,” McMorris says. “It’s something I need in my life for stress relief and for entertainment.”

But politics is still her number one passion, and her goal is to one day run for public office.

“Right now I’m really happy with just getting all the experience I can in as many political fields as I can,” she says. “As a sophomore, I see something new on campus every day that I want to take advantage of. It’s something that comes with being at a world-renowned university like Oregon State.”

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