Julia McCarthy has utilized this point in American history in Women’s Rights to put herself forward in understanding the significance of our current hardships and contexts. She has devoted herself as a catalyst for change, with her internships with SKDKnickerbocker and EMILY’s List having combined her knowledge in politics and communications to support her passions.
“I always had this interest in politics and I’ve always wanted to help women, but it has become dire for me,” Julia said. “I just physically cannot sit by and let these things happen.”
FAMILY EMPOWERMENT—Julia’s mother works as the Vice President of Penguin Random House in New York City - one of the largest publishing companies in the world. Her father is a musician who works from home, playing at shows and rehearsals at night.“It’s definitely different from the stereotypical family, but I thought it was great,” Julia said.
Having a strong, successful woman role model influenced Julia tremendously, providing her with the confidence that she too could be strong and successful. However, it was equally important to have an encouraging father. “My dad is amazing, and has always been supportive of my sister and I,” she said. “He never once said, ‘You’re a girl, you should do ballet.’ I played soccer, I did jiu-jitsu and have a black belt - he was all about letting us to do what we wanted to do so long as we were smart and worked hard.”
Even Julia’s sister has influenced her to work hard throughout life, providing motivation during times of self-doubt. “She still pushes me and will call me out when I’m wrong, which is important,” she said.“I’ve definitely been surrounded by a lot of strong women my whole life,” she added. “For me it’s a no-brainer that that’s how I am.”
POLITICS—“I always had a real interest in politics, and my family has as well,” Julia said. “We’ve always talked about politics at the dinner table, and my parents are very politically active.”
“I would go into the voting booth when I was little with my dad and remember pulling the little lever. I was watching 60 Minutes when I was a child,” she said, laughing. Julia discovered a passion for politics in an Advanced Placement (AP) government course in high school, where she participated in a mock campaign project. “We had candidates, campaign managers, finance advisors, policy directors - everyone had a role. We took it very seriously,” she said. “I love the whole idea of putting together a message, pushing a candidate, making these ads - I thrived during this project.”
Julia believes politics are an integral to every aspect of life, and having political conversations is necessary to positive progression and change.“People ask why things are so political, but everything is politics. We have to acknowledge these things,” she said. “People think politics are an uncomfortable topic to talk about...I might disagree with you, and I might point out when I think you’re wrong, but that’s OK. People can tell me I’m wrong too—but, I don’t think anything is going to change until we have dialogue.”
Julia emphasized that these conversations must include individuals with opposing beliefs, but unfortunately people have become increasingly intolerant of different opinions.
“Julia is one of the smartest Honors Program students I have ever had the pleasure to work with,” said Dr. James Snyder, Honors Program Director and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Marist.“Her moral compass has driven her to take tough stands on social and political issues that matter to her, and that try to move the needle, so to speak, of justice in a positive direction. Students like Julia don't come around every day.”
D.C.—Nearly half of all Marist students study abroad at some point, and most of these students hope to study at Marist’s branch campus in the city of Florence, Italy. Julia chose differently, and is currently studying in Washington, D.C. “For me it was really hard, because my three best friends are all in Florence together right now,” she said. “But at the same time, I love Washington D.C. and I asked myself, ‘how can I not be there right now in such a pivotal moment in our history and our democracy - I can’t pass up the opportunity to be there.’
“Europe will always be there, but this moment in time in Washington D.C. will not be.”Julia’s first weekend in Washington, D.C. witnessed the Women’s March on Washington. She had previously marched in New York City with her family, but this experience was like no other.
“Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking out into the sea of people - no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on politically, it’s just so powerful to think of the history of the marches that have occured here,” Julia said. “It’s just so monumental, so massive, so important. I get to play this very small but still important role in all of this.”
Kelsey Donohue ‘13 influenced Julia to seize the opportunities in Washington, D.C.. Donohue worked as the Assistant Press Secretary under former First Lady Michelle Obama.
She also previously worked as a Digital Content Coordinator at EMILY’s List, which seeks “to put women into office who can make significant contributions to education, health care, voting rights, and economic equality,” according to its website.
Julia was accepted as a communications intern with EMILY’s List, a moment she described as “a dream come true.”“If you want to work with women in politics right now, EMILY’s List is the place to be...we work so hard to have these women become congresswomen because they’re going to go into the small town they represent and they’re going to meet some little girl who will think, ‘that can be me.’”
‘WORK TWICE AS HARD TO GET HALF THE RESPECT’—
The Declaration of Independence establishes “that all men are created equal,” but history has proven otherwise, as women have persistently fought for rights and equality to their male counterparts.Julia is fighting for that equality.“I just want to walk down the street and not get cat called, I want to be able to vote for a woman president, I want to be able to speak my mind and be respected for being intelligent,” she said. “I think those are pretty basic wants.”
“I have a lot of younger girl cousins. I want to make the world better for them,” she added. “I don’t want them to walk into a classroom and have people assume that they’re dumb. I don’t want them to work twice as hard to get half the respect...Having girls have the confidence to point that stuff out is important.”
Julia has posted photos of herself marching in Washington, D.C. and has since lost many followers - people she has known for a long time. Despite this, she has never shied away from her beliefs.
“I think this is where having women leadership comes in,” she said. “This is why we need women senators, this is why we need a woman president, this is why we need women professors and deans and people in those higher places that can be representative and show, ‘you can do this too.’
“I think more girls just need to know that they can accomplish big things, even if the people around them are saying they cannot.”
TAKING A STANCE-- Julia admits that life can be challenging, especially as a woman. However, that has never deterred her confidence and persistence.
“I’ve always known what I wanted and have been very sure of it,” she said. “I’ve always had this really strong sense of self. I think accepting that making mistakes is okay and that it’s not going to make or break your whole life is really important,” she said.
Ultimately, Julia hopes that her confidence and self-acceptance can inspire other young women to feel powerful. “I try to be really authentic, and I think that’s important - especially as a girl, where you’re often told to live up to all of these expectations of what you’re supposed to be like,” she said.
“At some point you have to say, ‘This is who I am. I think I’m really cool, I think I’m really smart, and it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.’ If you live your life being very sure about yourself and knowing these truths about yourself, then other people will accept them too.”
“Just have an honest conversation with yourself about who you want to be.”