Actor Kal Penn Encourages Iowa State Students To Vote

This story was written by Emily Bishop, Iowa State Daily


Students had the opportunity to hear actor and activist Kal Penn speak about the importance of voting Monday afternoon at the Maintenance Shop, in the Iowa State University Memorial Union.

Penn, known for his roles in the Harold & Kumar movies and Foxs popular medical show, House, is currently working on a graduate certificate at Stanford University in international security. He has also been an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pennsylvanias Asian American Studies Program.

Penn thanked the crowd for the huge turnout at Iowas caucus in January.

The youth vote was critical in [Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama] winning the state of Iowa, Penn said, who visited Iowa State before the caucus.

His message was all about voting early.

The simple act of voting early could completely sway the entire presidential election, Penn said.

Penn wasnt politically involved in anything until the Obama campaign. He said he was an independent and more of a cynic.

I never thought I would do anything remotely political in my life, Penn said.

Penn went into politics after he took a closer look at Obama and became impressed by his civil rights work and the 10 years he spent as a constitutional law professor.

Penn became active with the candidate after filling out an Obama supporter card indicating his interest in helping the campaign.

Growing up, Penn heard, If you work hard enough, you can make something of yourself. However, he didnt believe this to be true until Obama came.

Rowena Sace, senior in aerospace engineering, said she attended the lecture out of curiosity.

[I came] to see the perspective of a celebrity and how his opinions can affect students, Sace said.

The upcoming election will be the first election Sace participates in. Sace, who is originally from the Philippines, has citizenship in Australia and recently became a U.S. citizen, giving her dual citizenship. Looking into the voting process is something Sace has been doing to educate herself through watching conventions and reading articles.

I think its important for students to be involved in the political process, Sace said.

She said she has seen some of Penn s movies, including Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, but before the lecture she said she had never paired politics and Penn together.

Ive seen him take different roles on TV, Sace said. When I think of an actor, I isolate them with their given roles.

The lecture was a part of Iowa States 2008 Campaign Series.
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