Charles Badger: a passion for the future

Charles Badger has been in love with politics since age eleven. He was first inspired during a summer of shadowing Ed Sanders, a politician in Charles’ native Nashville, Tennessee. Sanders was “a giant of a man,” and young Charles was captivated by his ability to fill a room with his voice alone. Since then, Charles has been the Student-Body President here at Berea and Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, and he has participated in internships under Federal Judge Thomas W. Phillips, Senator Mitch McConnell, and the White House Office of Political Affairs. His accomplishments become all the more outstanding when seen in the shadow of his past: living from paycheck to paycheck, in a house that was robbed twice, with a brother in prison and a father dying of HIV.

Ironically, it was Charles’ mother, whom he has admittedly had to “drag” to the voting booth, who set him on the path that eventually led him to politics. Smiling fondly, he reflects, “She has always been behind me 110%. Every single summer she had me in after-school programs, and she was always hunting down scholarships for them.” Many of these programs were not political, but they helped to expand his world “beyond the projects.”

As he matured, Charles adopted his mother’s enthusiasm for his future as his own. After graduating from Berea, he plans to attend law school and eventually pursue a career in politics. His passion for politics stems partly from his disappointment in the underprivileged communities in which he was raised. He has seen political apathy run rampant throughout our nation, as he grew up in poor minority neighborhoods whose cynicism toward the government turned potential voters away from the polls. Along with encouraging political involvement among these communities, he would also like to see the education system reformed during his political career. “Your education is affected by where you live and how wealthy you are.” he explains. “It is a very serious moral issue, and I would like to see high-quality education for all children.”

Charles’ education has played a significant role in preparing him to begin his political career. Already he has spent two summers in Washington, D.C. with internships, which he emphasizes were made possible by help from Berea. Though his first internship was unpaid, Berea’s Labor Department was able to provide him with a salary, and Alumni Relations located alumni who provided him with housing during his stays in Washington.

Charles is grateful for all his experiences that have directed him toward a future which will no doubt be marked by achievement and influence. He remembers one epiphany he experienced during his internship at the United States Senate, when he realized that “this kid from the projects, who has had to eat off an ironing board when we didn’t have a table, is walking the same halls where Thomas Jefferson was named president.” At that moment, he realized that it was the bleakness of his past situation that led to his present success and inspired him to create a better future for his nation.

Categories: News, People
Tags: Politics, Student Spotlight

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.