Megan makes her mark

When you are in politics, you may as well use what makes you stand out to your advantage.

Megan Richardson of rural Tracy attended the American Legion’s Girls State program in June. The week-long program, where young girls learn about the American system of government, took place at Bethel College in St. Paul. The students learned about local, county, state and federal government.

To get an even greater first-hand experience, the girl staters had an election of their own. Richardson, the daughter of Bryan and Kathy Richardson, ran for the office of “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Richardson is classified as hard of hearing and has worn hearing aids since the age of 4. She used sign language and a sign language interpreter for her campaign speeches.

One-on-one or in a small group, Richardson can communicate just fine, but in a larger room with microphones, she needed an interpreter.

“It made me more known,” she said. “They (her fellow girl staters) thought it was cool.”

Richardson said she has never received that kind of support.

“I got so much positive energy from people,” she said. “It helped me be more comfortable and come out of my shell.”

Richardson won her campaign, but also won a sense of confidence that she can take with her in her future endeavors.

She said it helped her to be in a mostly female environment.

“We got a sense of woman empowerment,” she said. “We learned you can go after what you want.”

Also during the week, the girls heard “powerful women speakers,” Richardson said, including a county attorney who encouraged the girl staters to follow their dreams.

“She said you can go after any job you want,” Richardson said.

In the first part of the week, the organizers urged the girls to run for office.

“They said, ‘Involve yourself – otherwise the week will be long and boring,'” Richardson said.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing at first,” she said.

The first part of the week the other girls were campaigning for “city” and “county” offices and then it was time to run for the “state supreme court” office.

“It’s one of the bigger positions,” she said. “I decided, ‘Go big or go home.'”

She was sworn in as chief justice of the supreme court at a ball/reception.

The next day the officeholders got to visit the state capitol and meet dignitaries such as the secretary of state and the attorney general.

“We got to ask them questions,” she said.

Richardson attended Tracy Area High School when she was sponsored by the Tracy American Legion to participate in Girls State. She will attend the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault next year.

Her future plans include attending Minnesota State, Mankato and studying international relations.