Bulldog of the Month: Mary Franz

Photo by Morgan Pint

Photo by Morgan Pint

UMD senior Mary Franz has always been focused on helping others. That is why she’s pursuing a degree with a double major in Political Science and Communications as well as a minor in Native American Studies.

Franz hopes on getting a job in AmeriCorps, where she will be working with youth experiencing homelessness. She also hopes to help with Mayor Emily Larson’s vision plan. Franz’s long-term career is something she is still indecisive about.

In addition to her studies at UMD, Franz is the Chief of Staff for Student Association and a Director of Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).

“I work with faculty, residence life, and chancellors on how we increase voter engagement and civic engagement for the election season,” Franz said.

Franz stated that Student Association is obviously very political but she “can't be very partisan” in her position.

“Our main ways in which we engage voters is making sure voter registration is everywhere, having voter events, and teaching all staff of the university all that is included with voting,” Franz said.

In order for Franz to get more voters, she sits on the Civic Engagement Board for the University and oversees MPIRG’s Get Out the Vote (GOTV) work.

“My political limits are really GOTV work,” Franz said. “I oversee all of the class wraps that are happening, the voter engagement events. Every piece of voter registration that’s on this campus goes through me before it goes out.”

According to Franz, this is done because our campus is a part of the All In Challenge.

“Every part of the U of M system does it,” Franz said. “All the voter registrations are counted, we make sure that no data information is being shared outside. It’s really just like increasing the awareness of it, increasing the events about it, and making sure that people are informed of every piece along the way.”

Mary Franz participates in numerous local movements, like the March For Our Lives Event pictured here. Photo courtesy Mary Franz

Mary Franz participates in numerous local movements, like the March For Our Lives Event pictured here. Photo courtesy Mary Franz

Franz started working for the Democratic Farmer Labor Party as an intern when she was 13.

“I care about a lot of different issues,” Franz said. “Whether that [can] be socioeconomic statuses or water and environmental issues. I think political science kind of works with everything.”

Franz said that all elections are important to her.

“I think people often forget that voting is much more than turning a ballot into a machine,” Franz said. “There is so much history behind why we have the privilege to vote and I think this often gets forgotten.”

Franz thinks this midterm election will change the way poverty, housing, sexual assault, gun regulations, education and so much more is handled over the next decade.

According to Franz, midterms are directed towards more local and community based elections. They have the most direct effect on our local area.

“A lot of the things that are going to be hitting the local level, especially in Duluth, will be the mining,” Franz said. “The congressional district as a whole is getting a lot of support through Donald Trump, who supported Pete Stauber, and Barack Obama, who supported Joe Radinovich.”

Franz stated that Minnesota is the eighth top election in the United States of America.

“This race is really going to make or break what is being passed nationwide,” Franz said.

Franz has some advice to potential voters out there, especially faculty, students and staff at UMD.

“I, as a white American, can stand here and be like ‘my vote doesn't matter’ but there’s Native American communities and territories, immigrants and people with criminal records that don't have the privilege to vote,” Franz said. “There’s a point in which you have to step back and check your privilege and realize how important your vote is. You represent the hundreds of other people that can’t vote. If you give that up, then you're giving them up too.”

Mary Franz, along with her siblings Paul and Sarah, smile at the summit of Mount Fuji. Photo courtesy Mary Franz

Mary Franz, along with her siblings Paul and Sarah, smile at the summit of Mount Fuji. Photo courtesy Mary Franz

Franz’s family has pushed her more than anything. Her brother works for Nintendo in Japan, while her sister works for US Senator Amy Klobuchar. Franz’s mother is an ER nurse and her father owns his own company.

“I was pushed to do a lot more than a lot of other students,” Franz said.

Franz’s passion for helping people and politics is only matched by her passion for exploration.

Her first major exploration was a couple of years ago when she spent three weeks traveling from Los Angeles to Canada on the Hoh River Trail.

“I also backpacked around China for two weeks then flew to Japan and did Mount Fuji overnight,” Franz said. “I did hikes in Okinawa, then last year I did mountains in Chile and before school started I spent time in Whistler, Ireland.”

Franz’s dream is to trek Kilimanjaro before she turns 25.

Franz spent five years in and out of the University of Minnesota’s Children’s Hospital for lung and nerve issues when she was younger, so she climbs mountains to prove a point.

“When I get to the top [of the mountain] I prove not only the doctors wrong, but I also prove that just because people tell you that you can't do something doesn't mean you actually can’t,” Franz said. “It just means the road is going to be harder.”

Franz said she also enjoys seeing the world from a different angle.

“You never really know what your going to get but it's a lot of pain, sweat, and tears to find the most beautiful places I've ever seen,” Franz said.

Franz believes that students will show up to the polls because they have the demographic to make a difference. She just wants students to be educated when they vote.

“Use your voice and stand up for what you care about,” Franz said. “No one can vote for you and not everyone has the right to vote at all. So don't abuse or neglect your power.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6th, 2018.