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Snag that dream job: I wanna...run for the Senate

U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski may only be 4’11”, but she’s one tough cookie.
At 74 years old, the Maryland senator doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon. Although the Baltimore native has been busy on the campaign trail, she took some time to share with GL readers what it’s really like to be a politician.


GL: What exactly does a senator do every day?
Sen. Mikulski: I do many different things on a typical day. When I’m at the Capitol in Washington, I might go to the Senate floor to debate a bill or attend committee meetings with other senators.


When I’m not in Washington, I like to travel around Maryland to meet with my constituents: small business owners, groups of parents and their children, high school and college students or seniors. I meet with veterans, federal employees and executives from biotech and homeland security companies that support our military.


GL: What inspired you to become a senator?

Sen. Mikulski: I started my career as a social worker in Baltimore – helping at-risk children and educating seniors about the Medicare program. Social work evolved into community activism when I heard about the plan for a 16-lane highway that would have destroyed neighborhoods and torn the city apart. 


The road fight was my turning point – when I knew I would rather be opening doors for others from the inside, than knocking on doors from the outside. Today, that dream has come true as I have the opportunity to serve Maryland and America in the United States Senate.


GL: What is the best part of your job? What’s the hardest part?

Sen. Mikulski: The most exciting part about being a senator is knowing I have helped make a difference in people’s lives. My proudest moments are when I win the battles I am fighting for the people of Maryland.


The most difficult thing about being a senator is considering whether or not to send American troops to war. That is not a responsibility that I take lightly. While I continue to fight to provide our troops with the resources they need in the field, I am proud to have voted against sending our men and women in uniform into the war in Iraq.


GL: What advice do you have for girls who want to become politicians?

Sen. Mikulski: It’s so important for young girls to be motivated to achieve. They need to know that with hard work and perseverance, they can follow their dreams and become chemists, lawyers, biologists, doctors and congresswomen. While women can work alone to make a difference, we have to work together to make change. 


When I first came to the Senate, I was the 16th woman to have ever served there. Now there are 17 of us all at once. Can you believe it?  


GL: Who are your role models?

Sen. Mikulski: As a young girl, I was inspired by a movie about Marie Curie. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and she was of Polish heritage, just like me. I wanted to be a scientist, but I found out rather quickly that science wasn’t my calling. I was a little klutzy with my lab sets. I was also inspired by the nuns who were my teachers at the Institute of Notre Dame. They taught me I could be smart and effective but still womanly.


GL: Why is it important for girls to get involved with politics?

Sen. Mikulski: The government must always have voices who speak out for women, children and families. Women bring their own perspective and life experiences to their work every day, but no matter what, the United States will always be well served with more women in office. Every issue is a women’s issue, and girls understand that.


The more girls run for Congress, the stronger [we] can become and the louder our voices will be in the government and in the lives of Americans.
Thanks for chatting with us, Senator Mikulski!

BY L’OREAL THOMPSON ON 9/23/2010 2:37:00 PM


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