Sruthi Palaniappan, an 18-year-old student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is the youngest Indian American delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, which began July 25 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sruthi Palaniappan says she was met with crowds of protesters as she walked to the convention center on the inaugural day of the convention. “Many of them are Bernie Sanders supporters who may especially be upset about the DNC leaks that occurred recently,” said Palaniappan.
Palaniappan is a precinct captain for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Before the Feb. 1 Iowa Caucus, the senior at Linn-Mar High School organized volunteers to canvass the precinct, knocking on doors to garner support for Clinton.
On the day of the Caucus, Palaniappan verified delegates allotted to Clinton, and convinced voters who were still on the fence. Though she was able to convince a number of voters who had not yet decided on whom to support, Palaniappan said she had a tougher time convincing supporters of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “Once you’ve aligned yourself with a candidate, it’s harder to switch sides,” she told the media.
Palaniappan’s father – Palaniappan Andiappan – is also attending the DNC, as a member of the credentials committee. The political activist – who will attend Harvard University this fall, majoring in Government and minoring in Global Health – said she hopes to run for office someday to “impact the day to day lives of people.”
Palaniappan was one of 50 young women from around the country who participated last month in the 2016 Distinguished Young Women of America competition. She was named a finalist and received a $2,500 scholarship (see separate story). Palaniappan won two additional awards at the competition: $1,000 for scholastics; and $2,000 for the Wintzell’s Oyster House My Town Award in memory of Betty Copeland.
Palaniappan says she’s hopeful in the parties ability to come together. “His statement today will really help unify the party, and show Senator Sanders supporters that they can still be as energized about those policy ideas that they were talking about earlier, especially because Secretary Clinton has been really trying to add them to their own platform now. And that we have a lot at stake here so we do have to move together forward.”