Aimee Cicchiello is an ELHS alumnus who attended Columbia University. From there, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She interned in Washington, D.C. for CT Representative Jim Himes during the summer of 2018. In the fall of 2019, she ran for a position on the Board of Assessment Appeals (BOAA), but left the race after receiving a new job offer in NYC.
Viking Saga: What made you decide to apply for the internship with Jim Himes?
Aimee Cicchiello: I applied for a congressional internship because I wanted to experience first-hand how government functioned. I also saw it as a way to complement my coursework as a political science major and see if working on the Hill was a potential career path.
VS: What pushed you to join politics? Have you always seen yourself participating?
AC: I wanted to run for the [BOAA] to galvanize people my age to take a more active role in local politics. While we all see what is happening on the federal level in the news everyday, municipal government impacts our daily lives in a more tangible way. Whether it takes the form of postponing Halloween, getting more funding for the high school, or conserving our public spaces, the decisions local government makes plays a large role in how East Lyme functions. And while town politics are often overlooked, it is also the place where we have the potential to make the most impact.
VS: Describe how politics has helped you get to the point you’re at now?
AC: I never expected to join a campaign as a candidate, but the members of the East Lyme Democratic Town Committee welcomed and encouraged me to run [for the BOAA.] I was afraid that as a fresh college graduate, there wasn’t any space for me in the political process as a candidate, but they showed me that anyone can get involved if they’re willing to put in the time and effort.
VS: What advice do you have for students who wish to pursue a career in politics?
AC: The most important thing to do is get involved — volunteer for a campaign, intern at a political organization, or go to the local Democratic or Republican Town Committee meetings. Learn how each organization works and see if you like it. Talk to the people there and ask them questions about what they do. Even more important than any of that, however, is exercising your civic duty to vote. Encourage your friends to register, get affiliated with a party if you choose, do your research on the candidates, and bring your friends with you on election day. Our system of government depends on participating in elections, and too often the younger voice is lost because we don’t vote in great numbers.
VS: Describe your new job. What do you do?
AC: I will be doing research and grants management at the Commonwealth Fund in New York City. It is a health care policy think tank and foundation that aims to promote an efficient, high quality, and affordable health care system so everyone, particularly the marginalized, can access medical care. I will be contributing to research on Medicare, as well as helping other academics and policy makers obtain grants for their own research.