I have spent a lot of time on this blog talking in generalities about Oxford, this week’s post is more personal as I just took off from my home in DC for the last time for at least a year. My decision to pull the trigger and go to Oxford was extremely difficult. More than the standard loss of home, community, friends and job (which have been immense and at times painful), my choice to go to Oxford is one of the hardest choices I have yet made because it represents a personal choice to close a door on a truly unique opportunity that may never come around again.
For those who don’t know my background, I have spent the past 6 years of my career in politics and technology, and in April, just after attending admitted students weekend at Oxford, I received a message from a great friend of mine, Matt. Matt’s message asked if I’d be interested in talking about tech to a guy looking at running for US Senate in Maryland. Always on the lookout for clients I said absolutely and began my research.
As I read about Chrys Kefalas and his background I became enthralled. A Millennial like myself who started his own internet-sports company that rivaled ESPN when he was just in High School, he sold it to pay for law school in Baltimore while working at his family’s restaurant. Following school he worked for the Republican Governor of Maryland (Bob Ehrlich) working to reform the broken criminal justice system.
After his time with the Governor he worked at the Department of Justice for 7 years eventually becoming speech-writer to the Attorney General on Criminal Justice & Civil Rights issues. While at DOJ he took personal time to come out as gay and call for marriage equality in Maryland just after Prop 8 had passed, limiting marriage in California. He was the highest Republican in the state to do so and he continued to fight for equality until Question 6 passed in 2012.
As a Gay Republican myself I was inspired and set time aside to work for Chrys to help get his digital campaign set-up. I spent time with Chrys and his partner and late one night after a charity event I asked Chrys the candid question “Why?” He knew what I meant and proceeded to tell me that he was running to give kids on the street of Baltimore a chance at a life better than dealing drugs for $8,000 a year until they are either locked up or killed by 26. He told me he was running because previous leaders had failed his home, and that this could only be fixed at the federal level.
I had been waiting for a candidate like Chrys, someone who is consistently conservative and who has the presence to demand change for the citizens of his state who are living without hope and without opportunity. I sat there listening to his candid answer to my personal question and knew in my heart that I wanted to work for him. To those who have watched the West Wing, I was Josh Lyman having discovered Jeb Bartlett up in Nassau; and with my deposit for Oxford due in a week, I had to find Sam Seaborn and make a decision.
The next morning I went to two campaign events with Chrys and then booked the next flight to Seattle where I spent 30 hours confiding in two of my best friends and confidants. Over the course of the next 3 days I weighed my dream candidate with the magic of Oxford and when time came for a decision I made one of the most difficult choices I have ever made, and picked Oxford.
In doing so I gave up a chance to manage a Senate campaign that has the potential to change the Republican party. I gave up my dream candidate knowing that I might never get this chance again. As I take-off from DC having spent the last 4 months helping with Chrys’ race I can’t help but hear a creeping voice in the back of my head telling me I made the wrong decision. This is one of the moments that later in life I may come to regret.
I plan on doing all that I can for Chrys during school breaks and in the few weeks between graduation and the election, but only time will tell if I made the right decision or not.
If you have a moment, are a US Citizen, and have a minute to research and donate to Chrys’ campaign I urge you to do so. He truly does represent the future of the republican party and a candidate who can inspire those around him.
Join me next week as I share my goals and plans for the next 12 months of my life getting an Oxford MBA.