When Trevor Tezel (SFS ’14), president of GU’s College Democrats, prefaced Thursday’s much-anticipated speech by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) with a stern reminder of the university’s speech and expression policy, the specter of partisanship seemed to already loom large over the event. Within minutes of Kaine’s opening remarks, though, it became clear by the audience’s captivated silence that any such fears of disruption were ill-founded.
Kaine’s speech, touted as “A Conversation on a Life in Public Service,” was co-sponsored by the Campus Democrats, the Georgetown International Relations club, and the Georgetown Office of Federal Relations. Kaine was introduced by Mariel Jorgensen (COL ’16), a resident of a town near his current home in Richmond, VA.
Kaine began with a round of perfunctory “thank you’s and “it’s-great-to-be-here’s,” and then launched into the story of his journey into national politics. Kaine is a native of Kansas City, MO, with blue-collar Catholic roots. He attended a Jesuit high school before earning a B.A. from the University of Missouri, and went on the study law at Harvard University. There, Kaine found himself, much like Taylor Swift, feeling somewhat confused “at 22 years old”; therefore, he embarked on a yearlong Jesuit mission to Honduras in 1979. In the settlement of El Progreso, Kaine described a series of “pivotal” experiences that propelled him toward “a life for others.” His time in Honduras taught him not just Spanish, but also, as he emphasized repeatedly, humility.
Kaine returned stateside and completed his studies at Harvard. For the next 17 years, he pursued housing discrimination cases as a civil rights lawyer in Richmond. His public service career began, as he described it, “I got mad at my City Council one day.” Later, Kaine elaborated that his dissatisfaction as stemming from latent racial discrimination in some of the leadership levels of city government. He successfully ran for an open council slot, going on to become Mayor of Richmond, Lieutenant Governor then Governor of Virginia, and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He was elected to his present seat in the U.S. Senate in 2012.