Cassidy Whitaker was just in middle school when she became enthralled with the 2008 presidential election. She remembers hearing then-Senator Barack Obama speak and accompanying her mom to the voting booth. Politics has been her passion ever since, and these days she is closely watching the 2016 race.

A political science major and with a journalism minor, Cassidy hopes to start her career as a political journalist and eventually become a political analyst. She enjoys listening to Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and others, and even got the chance to meet James Carville when he spoke at University Campus in 2015. To get ready for such a career, she is a contributing writer and political columnist for The Lions’ Pride student newspaper, specifically covering the 2016 debates and campaigns. She also took part in Saint Leo’s mock presidential debate during the fall 2015 semester, serving as health care policy advisor for the Democratic campaign.

Cassidy WhitakerSaint Leo has proven to be the perfect place for Cassidy for a number of reasons. First, it is close to her hometown of Brandon, FL, but not too close. The distance allows her to be independent, but she can still easily go home for visits. She also loves the beautiful campus. But what really appeals to her are the the small class sizes. She enjoys getting to know her professors and having a relationship with them. In particular she appreciates the advice and support she receives from Frank Orlando, who is her political science advisor and “an incredible educator”; Valerie Kasper, who teaches journalism and is the faculty advisor for The Lions’ Pride; and Christopher Friend, an English professor who taught her Academic Writing class and helped her decide to minor in journalism.

Recently, Cassidy was the recipient of a Tampa Bay Business and Professional Women’s Association Scholarship, a process that involved a lengthy application and interview. In the years to come, she hopes to be an editor at The Lions’ Pride, maintain a high GPA, get more involved in Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honor society), and make the most of her Saint Leo education. Somehow she will juggle all that while staying glued to the 24-hour news cycle.