Joining a club as soon as she arrived on campus made all the difference in Julie Lawton’s freshman year, propelling her into internships and connecting her on-campus learning with real-world experiences.
Lawton, a political science major, jumped right into the UML College Democrats. She worked hard to help then-president David Todisco ’18 revive the club and became vice president midway through the year. In the spring, she was elected president of the club for her sophomore year, when she will also serve as vice president of the Political Science Club. 
“I put a lot of work into getting the club going,” she says. “I got elected because I showed that I’m a good leader and that I really care about the club.”
Todisco mentored Lawton from the start, inviting her to work with him on Medford Mayor Stephanie Burke’s successful reelection campaign. They knocked on doors, phone-banked, held signs and made sure the mayor’s supporters turned out on Election Day. 
“It was a small campaign, so I got to see what you do as a campaign manager, all the people you need to interact with and the organizational skills that you need,” she says.
One thing led to another. That experience helped Lawton win an internship in Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Office of Women’s Advancement during spring semester. There, she worked on gender wage parity – and delved further into the topic by writing a research paper on racial disparities within the gender pay gap for Politics of Race and Ethnicity, a class she took with Asst. Prof. Mona Kleinberg.
“I’m passionate about political science and women’s rights,” Lawton says. “I think it’s cool that I can connect my classes with what I learned in my internship.”
Burke also wrote a recommendation for Lawton that helped her land a summer internship at the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, where she is helping get pro-choice women candidates elected during a historic surge in women candidates seeking elected office. 
Before she started the summer internship, Lawton won election herself to represent her hometown, Sudbury, as a delegate at the 2018 state Democratic Party convention.
She’s not yet sure whether she wants to work for nonprofits that help get women elected or run for office – or both. 
In the meantime, she’s got three more years to explore political opportunities on campus and off, such as getting involved with the Student Government Association and studying in the nation’s capital through the university’s partnership with The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.
“Before I came to UMass Lowell, I thought I might do better at a small women’s college, but this was the best financial option for me – and it turned out for the best,” Lawton says. “I don’t think I would have had as many leadership opportunities at other colleges, and there’s a more diverse student population here.”
  • Julie Lawton's internship experience inspired her to one day be in the forefront of a political campaign.