By Ainsley Davis
Once featured on the cover of “USA Today” magazine, Hailey Knowles is a passionate political activist and future advocate for change in the world. She is historian for Speech and Debate, and in charge of the Informative Speaking and Lincoln Douglas sections of the class. When she’s not advocating for environmental reform, education, and stricter gun laws, she listens to crime podcasts and reads whatever she can get her hands on.
Hailey joined Speech and Debate sophomore year and became historian her senior year. She described “seeing [her] novices get first place at a tournament and seeing them grow as debaters throughout the year” as the most rewarding part of her position. Her involvement in Speech and Debate sparked an interest in politics, as Lincoln Douglas debates require students to argue for random viewpoints on a controversial topic, forcing debaters to look at all sides of an issue.
“Speech and Debate has probably had the biggest influence on my future,” Knowles said. “Before I joined I had no idea what I wanted to do. It’s probably the biggest reason I realized I liked politics and eventually led me to pick a college in Washington D.C.”
This passion for politics led Hailey to be on the cover of “USA Today” during the National Women’s March in Las Vegas. A reporter asked her and her friends to take a picture on January 21, and she “had no idea they would put it in the newspaper, let alone the front page.” She described the march, where she registered to vote, as “an empowering experience.” She was thrilled to see so many people standing up for change and excited for the opportunity to use her voice.
“I think in the past teenagers have been pretty apathetic to politics and haven’t seen that they can make a change,” Knowles said. “I went to the march because I wanted to do as much as I can to make sure my voice was heard.”
Someday, Hailey hopes that her voice is heard around the world. After high school, she plans to attend George Washington University and enroll in the honors program. She will study foreign policy and major in international affairs, allowing her to campaign for change on a global scale. She believes that “a lot of countries are facing terrible conditions because of corrupt leaders and a lack of organization” and that politicians in the U.S. can help by ensuring leaders around the world are treating their people with respect.
“I want to work in other countries to help citizens get basic resources like food, water, and access to medicine,” Knowles said. “Through studying politics I want to help organize and pass resolutions that make the world safer and more sustainable for the future.”