Once his diploma is in hand, the 22-year-old Yardley, Penn. native won't have much time to celebrate.,While most members of the Class of 2006 are anxiously anticipating their May 15 graduation date, senior broadcast journalism major Doug Platz is more focused on the day after commencement.
Once his diploma is in hand, the 22-year-old Yardley, Penn. native won't have much time to celebrate.
Immediately after the ceremony, Platz will be flying home to prepare himself for the ultimate job interview: the Pennsylvania District 31 Democratic Primary.
In the past few months, Platz has spent a lot of time flying between Boston and Pennsylvania as he performs a juggling act, balancing college and a political campaign for state representative. While he said he sometimes feels that he is missing the senior experience, he believes in what he is doing.
"I have days when I am a little sad," Platz said. "I will be at home [working on the campaign] and one of my friends will call me and say 'Doug, what are you doing tonight, we're all going out' not knowing that I am in Pennsylvania."
But for Platz, this is a necessary sacrifice, and he takes comfort in knowing that he is doing something he considers significant.
"I've always been interested in politics," he said. "[Running] is a desire I've had for a long time."
A former member of his high-school speech and debate team, Platz said that experience helped him decide that he wanted to pursue a career in politics.
"[At speech meets], I liked feeling that the issues I was talking about were important and could make a difference," he said.
Platz's best friend and former debate teammate, Peter Hoglund, a senior political science major at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, is now part of the campaign as a volunteer and grassroots coordinator.
Hoglund remembered Platz's political enthusiasm in a ninth grade history class, where the students played a "fictitious World War I game."
"Doug's team made alliances and knocked every other team out," Hoglund said. "He caught on to the idea and rules of the game quicker than anyone."
These skills, Hoglund said, have served Platz well in his real-life campaign.
"None of us have done this before, so it's a lot to learn, but he figures out what needs to be done and gets it done well," he said.
Assistant Professor of Journalism Janet Kolodzy, who has been Platz's advisor for more than two years, also noted his drive, charisma and will to do good.
"He's one of those students who just seems older than he is," Kolodzy said. "He is focused and knows what he wants, which, as an advisor, is always great."
While some may be skeptical about the maturity of a 22-year-old candidate, Kolodzy said Platz is not a typical twenty-something.
"The minute you meet Doug, you really get the feeling that he is aware of his limitations and what he can offer," Kolodzy said. "His head is screwed on straight, but he has the energy of a young person."
During these past few months, Platz has made maximum use of his energy as he prepares for an election while maintaining his grades and working as an intern in Mayor Thomas Menino's press office.
He said he believes the next three weeks are the most important.
He will be collecting between 300-600 signatures of registered democrats in District 31, a task that will solidify his entry into the race.
Platz said that so far his campaign has held a few successful fundraisers, but now he plans to focus on "going door-to-door" to talk with voters, an undertaking he says he looks forward to.
Platz said he truly enjoys talking and listening to potential constituents, and if he does win the office of state representative, he will be sure to advocate open lines of communication between the population and government.
Platz also cited education as another issue important to him.
"I would want to work to keep students interested in school," he said, adding that he would speak against excessive standardized testing, something he believes can take away from any interest a child has in school.
While Platz has had his hands full, he says that his family and friends have helped him share the burden.
"It was a tough sell at first," Platz said. "They were like 'Are you sure you want to do that?' My dad is really on board now. He e-mails me local articles he thinks are important for me to read, and after my mom helped at my first fundraiser, she was very proud."
Platz's younger brother Kyle, a freshman TV/video major at Emerson, is also excited for his older sibling, who he describes as "very outgoing."
"I've always known that he was interested in politics, but I was surprised that he was going to start in college," the younger Platz said. "He has always been someone to push his own limits and accomplish things."
Fellow senior broadcast journalism major and press office intern Katie Knickelbein said she is not surprised by Platz's drive to run for office during his college career.
"He is the kind of person who won't complain. Instead, he'll do," Knickelbein said. "I could see him in 20 years somewhere in the White House, if not the President. The thing is, he would actually get stuff accomplished."