Politics and Pageants


Miss Round Lake 2016, Adriana Rodriguez-Ruiz. Rodriguez-Ruiz is using her platform as Miss Round Lake to urge other young people to become more politically active and aware.

In 2007, Adriana Rodriguez-Ruiz was living out the dream of many  eight-year-old girls when she became Little Miss Round Lake. Being a pageant princess meant that she had to be in parades, go to fundraising events, and be a role model for her surrounding peers. About nine years later, Rodriguez-Ruiz found herself back on the same stage reclaiming a crown she had left behind as she grew up. Becoming Miss Round Lake meant that she had all the same responsibilities as before, but this time her awareness of the world around her allows her to have a considerably heavier impact on the community.

Rodriguez-Ruiz competed for Miss Round Lake on the platform of politics, particularly pushing other youths to become politically active, no matter how young or how busy. While we sit and converse in a local cafe where the air is light and the the chatter amongst others is comforting, Rodriguez-Ruiz explains that being a senior at Round Lake High School means she is no stranger to the erratically chaotic teenage life. Rodriguez-Ruiz is juggling several Advanced Placement courses, student council, and a part-time job at t the congressional offices of Bob Dold. On top of all those responsibilities, she is also a part of the Schuler Scholar Program, which mentors bright, motivated high school students in order to help them to get into selective, private universities.

Rodriguez-Ruiz’s eyes were uncovered to the wide world of politics in the summer of 2015 as she explored government through the Junior State of America program at Princeton University. A friend of hers from Lake Forest High School had attended the same program and recommended it. Rodriguez-Ruiz filled out an application and was quickly accepted. After her experience, Rodriguez-Ruiz decided to take the initiative to branch out and start becoming involved with local politics. As a young individual and woman in today’s modern society, she has realized how crucial it is to be associated with politics at a young age and how it will really affect this and the next generation.

“What a lot of adults fail to mention to us is that we’re coming on the brink of being able to vote,” Rodriguez-Ruiz said. Everyone in this country that’s a U.S citizen has the undeniable right to vote, and according to Rodriguez-Ruiz, young people should be exercising this right to the fullest extent.

Association with politics doesn’t mean just voting, however, Rodriguez-Ruiz points out. It also means to go out and advocate for politicians and policies. Rodriguez-Ruiz is one of the many youths involved in Congressman Robert Dold’s campaign. Rodriguez-Ruiz worked on his campaign for nine months and said, “We’re all reaching 18 years old soon, so we should not only be involved in politics to  exercise our right to vote, but to understand how our elected officials and lawmakers of our country and our cities affect our everyday life,” she said. 

It seems that our generation has a certain opinion of our government based on media and the Internet. Yet according to Rodriguez-Ruiz, if today’s youth were able to be exposed to a government environment just as she did, they would be given reason and understanding.

Rodriguez-Ruiz says, “A lot of your beliefs come from your parents.” Rodriguez- Ruiz believes that it starts with young people on the brink of adulthood to make up their minds and know that it is okay to not believe in what the next person does. When a young person gets involved with elected officials, those officials are more likely to take the opinion of a person from today’s generation rather than a generation whose opinions would have made sense when Ronald Reagan was President. “The elected officials I have [dealt] with have always taken my consideration wholeheartedly. They have always respected me to the fullest extent,” Rodriguez-Ruiz said. After all, she said, we will be living in this country far long after the older generation voters have passed on and it is our time to have a voice and make our country what we want it to be 15 years from now.