Lawmaker calls Idaho teen ‘our hope for the future’

Kathy Min had one of the most important jobs on Rep. Sue Chew’s re-election campaign last year — even though the 17-year-old has never voted.

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Kathy Min is out campaigning for Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise and going through her checklist of door-knocking.

“She is our hope for the future, really,” said Chew, a Boise Democrat.

Kathy spent 100 hours during her summer break and after school as Chew’s deputy campaign manager. She was responsible for organizing and training campaign volunteers in door-knocking efforts. She also organized the campaign electronically, designed campaign forms and developed a database of voter identification. She did all this while participating in her own interests — debate club, Idaho Young Democrats club and environmental club.

“She’s really thoughtful and the fact she has so much humility with the way she goes about doing things is why so many students gravitate her way,” Chew said.

Her efforts helped Chew win by a 25 percent margin.

“I felt empowered,” said the Centennial High School senior.

Kathy met Chew in the fourth grade. The lawmaker was running an educational program for high school students at the Statehouse, showing them how the Legislature works and explaining how to testify in committee. Kathy attended with her father.

Chew then broke the students up into small groups to debate a hypothetical question about whether peanut butter and jelly should be the official state sandwich.

Kathy, an elementary student at the time, wasn’t intimidated by high school students.

“When the team testified for peanut butter, this little girl’s voice came out and asked some really good questions, and it was Kathy,” Chew said.

Kathy and Chew kept in touch over the years. Kathy told Chew about how she wanted to start a Young Democrats club at Centennial High. Together, they worked on a networking event that offered 20 of Kathy’s high school peers the chance to meet current and former elected officials in a fast-paced, speed-dating inspired atmosphere.

“Kathy absolutely empowers other students to make a difference in the community and on campus,” said Paul Montreuil, a debate coach at Centennial High. “She is a leader through and through and an excellent role model for everyone.”

Her political work isn’t over yet. In March, Kathy will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the 55th annual United States Senate Youth Program. Selected by Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, Kathy will join 104 high school students throughout the nation for a week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it.

“It would be interesting to meet Donald Trump because he’s so famous at this point,” Kathy said. “I would like to meet all of the Supreme Court justices.”

Kathy said politics are fun, challenging, rewarding and the best way to spend her high school years. As vice president of the Idaho Young Democrats, she wants to be part of change at the state level. She is involved with homelessness, healthcare and gender rights issues in Boise.

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Kathy Min joined Wood River High School students to knock on doors to help Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, during her re-election campaign in November.

“I’m not sitting behind my laptop writing angry Facebook rants,” Kathy said. “It isn’t difficult to make change if you try.”

Kathy doesn’t plan to pursue a career in politics. Her dream is to become a lawyer in environmental, international or human rights law.

“Working in law is an effective way to enact change,” Kathy said.

She was accepted to Yale University and it’s her top choice to study political science or double major in environmental studies and East Asian studies. She also applied to UC Berkeley, UCLA, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Princeton University and Stanford University.

“A lot of environmental issues are pressing issues of our time and it starts with yourself,” Kathy said.

.Kathy Min

Kathy owns a 4.28 grade-point average and is the salutatorian in her class.  She is fluent in three languages — English, Chinese and Japanese. At age 12, Kathy’s family moved from Meridian to Shanghai, China — where she went to junior high school before starting her freshman year at Centennial High. Kathy attended Shanghai American School, where teachers from all over the world taught classes.

“My experience living in China makes me want to live abroad in the future,” Kathy said. “It gave me a perspective about the world and different cultures.”

Fun facts about Kathy Min

  • Favorite drink? Chai tea latte from Starbucks
  • Favorite sport to watch? Does debate count? If not, swimming.
  • What are the first three songs on your current music playlist? “Mad” by Solange and Lil Wayne, “Dear Theodosia” from the musical Hamilton, “Lump Sum” by Bon Iver
  • You just got a free plane ticket to go anywhere. Where are you going? Vietnam
  • Three things you can’t live without? Internet, a thesaurus, items in bulk from Costco
  • Favorite emoji? Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 1.14.43 PM