At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, senior Jeremy Wiggins was the youngest Missouri delegate on the floor.
Wiggins has had internships at the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, the Missouri Office of the Attorney General and the Missouri House of Representatives.
So when he was sitting among older, more experienced delegates — some U.S. senators — he was not intimidated. He said he was just excited to be around so many accomplished people.
“When you are a delegate, you're down on the floor and there’s security, so no nondelegates can go vote or be on the floor,” Wiggins said. “I remember talking to Peter Thiel, the creator of PayPal. There's just a lot of really cool people you run into on the convention floor."
Wiggins became a delegate after the primary because he wanted to make sure his district was properly represented in the electoral college. He decided to run because he heard rumors that the projected-to-win delegates were likely to go against the district’s vote for Donald Trump and instead vote for Sen. Ted Cruz.
“When I found that out, that's when I really started looking more seriously into running,” Wiggins said. “I just think that's wrong, in the electoral process, this idea that people overwhelmingly vote for one nominee then these delegates go to the convention and go, ‘Well, we know better the 750,000 people in the congressional district,’ then vote another way."
Wiggins’ uncle was a state representative and that helped him get interested in politics, he said.
“[My uncle] was a Democrat from Macon, Missouri, in the northeastern part,” Wiggins said. “So I would say [politics] is just something I just drew a lot of interest into and kind of nerded-out on, if you will, and enjoy.”
Wiggins said it is easier to become a delegate in Missouri than in states like California or New York because there is less competition.
“With me, I ran against a sitting state representative,” Wiggins said. “I think you’ve got to keep your mind open and do those sorts of things, [and] step up.”
Looking back on his time as a delegate, Wiggins said he enjoyed his experience and hopes more young people take the opportunities to participate in the political system.
"To anybody just in general, a lot of the things I say in terms of advice isn't really that partisan,” Wiggins said. “Anyone at any age can really get involved and do some really cool things, especially in Missouri.”