Natalie is a junior from Charlotte, North Carolina majoring in History and Public Policy (with a concentration on Social Justice). She comes from a very politically engaged family, but truly discovered her passion for politics in her tenth grade Civics class. Since then, Natalie has volunteered and registered voters for presidential campaigns as well as worked in the office of U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). In March of 2012, Natalie represented Vanderbilt at the National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement Annual Conference at Harvard University Institute of Politics. She now serves as a Senior Editor on Vanderbilt Political Review and writes the column "Real Women, Real Politics." Natalie is also Secretary of Vanderbilt College Democrats.
Women make up 51% of the population, 19% of Congress, and 0% of past presidents.
Name: Lauren Nicole Kealohilani Cheape
Born: August 16, 1987 (age 25) in Mililani, Hawaii
Current Office: Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from the 45th District
Political Party: Republican Party
Education: Bachelor of Arts (Film Production), University of Hawaii
Why she is the Woman of the Week: Cheape is one of many young women who are creating a new image for pageant contestants and using their time in the Miss America circuit to jumpstart their political careers. Cheape won the Miss Hawaii crown in 2011 and, after taking a year to perform her duties, won election to a seat in Hawaii’s House of Representatives in 2012. She was recently featured in Marie Claire in an article about the changing nature of the pageant world, shifting from a “feminist punch line” to a more professionalized training ground for future female leaders, with endless networking opportunities and practice for public speaking and future campaigns. Cheape not only has strong ties to the pageant world but also a long connection with her home state of Hawaii, especially its farmers. Cheape is a 6th-generation Hawaiian, and her family farm recently celebrated its 102nd anniversary. While in college, she produced and directed a documentary entitled Farm Grown that dealt with the plight of her state’s struggling farmers, which contributed to the passage of a feed subsidy bill.
Background: Cheape is a 6th-generation Hawaiian with strong ties to the state’s agricultural community. Besides her longstanding family farm, her grandmother was the first woman to serve on the Board of Agriculture, and later became the Director of Agriculture. Her mother continues to work on the family farm, and her father is a Special Education teacher. Cheape was a very active student athlete in both high school and college, and her platform for Miss America was C.A.R.E. Collegiate Athletes Reaching Everyone program, which uses student-athletes to encourage youth to excel in academics and participate in athletics. She won her Miss Hawaii title on her fourth attempt in 2011. She was also a Quality of Life finalist at the Miss American pageant, an award given for community service. In 2012, she ran for office for the first time, winning a seat in Hawaii’s newly formed 45th district. She now serves as House Minority Whip.
Key Issues: As stated by her website, Cheape’s primary focuses are on agriculture, small business, education, and the environment. She wants to revive Hawaii’s agricultural community, encouraging more to embrace the farming lifestyle and make Hawaii more self-sufficient. Furthermore, she believe that reforming the regulatory environment and cutting red tape will help cut costs for small businesses. Her education agenda includes increasing school budgets and giving more money directly to schools, and she sits on the House’s Committee on Education. Cheape also cites environmental protection and clean energy solutions as a main priority.
Her Latest Headline: “Ban Considered on Paper Bags, Too” – Honolulu Star Advertiser
“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘You’re not an airhead like I thought you’d be.’”
[Image Credit: http://media.washtimes.com/media/community/viewpoint/entry/2012/10/21/LaurenCheapeKeiki_s640x427.jpg?73b8e21685896c3f2859310aaa5adb253919b641]