Alumna Spotlight: Allyson Carpenter, JIF '12, Youngest person elected to office in D.C.

By Michelle Zabat, JIF Fellow

Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, 2012 Joyce Ivy Summer Scholar Allyson Carpenter is now doing big things in Washington D.C. She’s a sophomore at Howard University, but being a student isn’t her only role. In fact, as a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, she is also the youngest person ever elected to office in D.C. This means that in addition to her studies, she deals with residents’ day-to-day issues, helps improve area neighborhoods, and works with local high school students. Although her duties may get overwhelming at times, Allyson says that they’re never too much to handle. “When you’re passionate about something, no matter how challenging it is, because it’s something you care about it doesn’t become stressful,” she explains. “It’s all worth it.”

Allyson Carpenter: JIF '12, Howard '17
Like so many other Summer Scholars, Allyson’s summer experience was transformative. “Never at any point during the application did I think I would actually be going to Harvard,” she admits. But with the help of the Joyce Ivy Foundation, Allyson found herself in Cambridge for a summer-long journalism program. The time she spent there turned out to be a wonderful turning point in her life. “Cambridge was exactly what I needed at that time,” she said. Like many other Joyce Ivy Scholars, her summer program provided the academic atmosphere that was missing from her high school career. The experiences, amazing friends, letters of recommendation from professors, and counseling she received from her classmates and faculty shaped her academic hopes and aspirations. As opposed to some of her high school classroom experiences, she found that everyone around her was just as excited to learn as she was. “It was a breath of fresh air to be around people who had the same goals that I had,” she reflects.

The benefits of Allyson’s time in Cambridge didn’t end as the summer came to a close. In fact, her time at Harvard strongly shaped her plans going forward. One of the most important lessons she took home was the she had the potential to study at some of the country’s greatest universities. “It encouraged me to apply to prestigious schools and colleges,” she explains. Additionally, as a first generation college student, all of her knowledge of the college application process came from her mentors and peers at Harvard and members of the Joyce Ivy Foundation. Academically, her journalism course didn’t confirm her desire to be a writer; instead it showed her that her true passion was politics. This discovery prompted her to intern for her state senator at home in Ohio. When it came time to choose a college, Howard University offered her the opportunities to study political science, live in Washington D.C., and continue to work for her senator.

With so many things on her plate, things haven’t always been easy for Allyson. “I’m a black woman who was seventeen when I was running for office. I’ve got racism, sexism, and ageism all at once,” she says with a laugh. These problems, though unfortunate, are very real concerns for young women in today’s world. Allyson admits that sometimes she has trouble being taken seriously or having her voice heard, but she always powers through it. “At the end of the day I have a job to do, and I can’t let criticisms or people’s rudeness get in the way of me doing my job,” she asserts.

In high school just 2 years ago: the 2012 Joyce Ivy Summer Scholars
For high school juniors and seniors preparing to apply (or who are in the middle of applying!) to college, Allyson has a few tips to offer. “Don’t just think about where you want to be in four years,” she advises. “Think about ten years, fifteen years. When you’re applying to college, think about why you’re going to college.” She suggests deciding on a college based on which school will best assist in accomplishing personal goals. As for her experience as a Joyce Ivy Scholar, the things she took away from her summer in Cambridge help her every day in the classroom and in politics. “Everything I learned there I’m being able to apply now,” she says. Many other Joyce Ivy Summer Scholars would vehemently agree.

Learn more about the Joyce Ivy Summer Scholars program here or help create more success stories like Allyson's by supporting the Joyce Ivy Foundation!

The posts published on the blog are written by a talented group of Joyce Ivy Fellows, who are all members of the Publications Team. To see who the members are, please visit here.

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