Voice of a Young Voter: Ross Rothpanhar On Appreciating Government Services

An estimated 46 million eligible voters in this year’s election are between 18 and 29 years old – part of the Millennial generation. Will those young voters sway the election? What issues do young people feel are important? What role do they think government should play in their lives?

KQED and three other public media organizations on the West Coast are exploring those questions in a series called “Voices of Young Voters.” We fanned out to college campuses around the Bay Area to hear from those who are just coming of age politically. Over the next few days we’ll share some of their stories.

Ross Rothpanhar

Ross Rothpanhar

by Lillian Mongeau

Ross Rothpanhar is a public health major at University of California, Berkeley. He says growing up poor made him appreciate government services.

So, I am Cambodian American. My parents are actually refugees from Cambodia. Growing up, we weren’t really privileged as like other Americans. We were overshadowed a lot, especially with the model minority myth where like, Asians excel.

People assume we do not need resources, but in fact my family needed a lot of resources. For a long period of time my family lived under the poverty line, and we are still barely at the poverty line right now. So the government systems to help people who do need the assistance is really vital.

Growing up and coming through the educational system, it’s really hard for me, a person like me to come to Cal. I was really fortunate to come to Cal. I had to go through a lot of obstacles and a lot of barriers and I had to go out and find a lot of resources myself instead of having resources come to me. I think government should focus on helping a lot more people that have been overshadowed and not very focused on.