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NIU Today | NIU student earns national recognition for efforts to promote civic engagement

As part of the national nonpartisan ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, NIU works to promote civic awareness among students and increase political participation.

Among those passionate about the effort, Grant Goral is up for the challenge. And then some.

The 21-year-old DeKalb native, double majoring in political science and history with plans to graduate in the spring of 2023, has been named to the 2022 ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll.

The ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll is a recognition program for college students at participating campuses doing outstanding work to advance nonpartisan democratic engagement. Goral joins a group of 82 college students honored for their nonpartisan voter engagement efforts on campuses across the country in 2021.

“College student voter turnout has increased since 2016, and this increase has been driven by students. The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is excited to expand our ALL IN Student Voting Honor Roll to recognize these student voting champions across the country,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “We are excited to see what they continue to accomplish ahead of the 2022 midterms.”

Nominated by Michaela Holtz, the President’s Office Staff Fellow and current chair of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Steering Committee, Goral has served Holtz on the committee. With support from across campus and beyond, the committee coordinates the Huskies Vote effort.

Along with encouraging students to register and vote, Huskies Vote provides resources on why voting matters, where to vote, candidate information and more.

Goral has played a pivotal role in that effort.

“Grant has helped to drive NIU’s Huskies Vote efforts during 2020 elections and continues to spearhead voter education and engagement efforts for 2022 midterm election,” Holtz said. “Grant is an extraordinary student, and his passion for voting engagement is contagious. It has been such a pleasure to work with him on ALL IN Democracy Challenge Steering Committee this year, and I look forward to implementing ideas he helped to develop for our 2022-23 action plan.”

Goral said he inherited an appreciation for civic engagement from his parents. Political involvement comes naturally to him, he said.

“I think it’s just so important students see how much their vote matters and how much they can impact elections. It’s important they recognize that they’re not powerless to change the things they want to change,” Goral said.

“That’s the whole point of nonpartisan voting activities is to show them the importance of their right to vote, how hard they fought that right was for different groups on campus. I’m extremely passionate about trying to share that story with other students.”

Goral began promoting civic engagement in 2020 as a University Honors student through Honors Engaged.

With the support of University Honors Director Andrea Radasanu, Goral recruited student election judges and promoted nonpartisan election advocacy by bringing in speakers and hosting activities as part of an Honors Civic Engagement Project.

“Together, Grant and I founded the Honors Advocacy Initiative, a group through which honors students could become more civically engaged. Under his leadership, the group has made a big impact already both for advancing equity goals within the program and civic participation more widely,” Radasanu said. “Grant deserves this recognition, and I know that this is just the beginning for him.”

Headed to Washington DC this summer to work in the office of US Rep. Adam Kinzinger as part of NIU’s Congressional Internship program, Goral hopes to earn a Marshall Scholarship to enroll in graduate school at King’s College in London upon earning his bachelor’s degree.

He would like to join the college’s Department of War Studies program. Ultimately, he said he intends to earn a law degree and work in Washington DC or for the United Nations.

The recent recognition provides even more incentive.

“It’s nice to know people appreciate the work you do,” he said. “To see someone stick their neck out for me and nominate me, I was thankful for sure that they saw that in me and proud NIU supported the work I do.”


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