CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Hannah McCarley, a senior at Washington High School in Charles Town, turned 18 earlier this month, she was also becoming the youngest delegate West Virginia ever sent to the National Democratic Convention, according to Dale Manuel, president of the Jefferson County Democratic Association.At the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., McCarley's 43 fellow West Virginia delegates picked her to deliver the state's nominating speech for president."Madame Secretary, my name is Hannah McCarley," she said. "I turned 18 this week and I am proud to be part of the youngest delegation ever from West Virginia."Our young people are committed to being part of the Democratic team that will make our future bright. Our delegation is proud to cast our 44 votes for President Barack Obama.""I didn't know I was going to do that. It was very exciting. It was a great honor," she told the Gazette-Mail in a recent phone interview.Before she spoke, McCarley said she and some of her fellow delegates "went out of the arena and wrote up something together. I spoke about how the youth and the young people in West Virginia are going to be a big part of the election."My speech was on C-Span at 1 o'clock in the morning. We stuck to the 30-second rule," she said. "It was pretty exciting."The Rev. Phil McCarley, Hannah's father, said, "We have been pretty much in the background. We are very proud of her. She has done an amazing job."She is back in school this week. She has a full load of challenging classes. Next week, she will begin writing her college application essays."
Hannah is not yet sure where she wants to go to college."I have to see where I get in," she said.Phil McCarley said, "I kind of worry about her sometime. But she handles things well. She seems to be able to balance things out."Hannah's parents, Phil and Melanie, went to the Charlotte convention with her.Hannah said the convention was "pretty amazing, especially my being so young. I got to meet a lot of other people from around the country.
"I was really excited to listen to all the speeches. I am really glad I got to do it, and I will remember it forever."
Planning to earn a degree in visual arts or psychology, Hannah is also very interested in politics and public policy."I have always been involved in politics at a local level. I was given the opportunity to go to the state convention to get elected to the national convention."When I was elected, I was very surprised and very honored. I am at the age where I can begin voting. That was part of the reason I was elected as a delegate."Earlier, I did a lot of campaign work for local candidates in my own town. That is how I got to know people and became more involved."In Charlotte, I was really excited to be able to talk to people from around the country, to listen to them and find out what they are looking for in this presidential campaign. It is interesting to hear all the different points of view you get from different parts of the country."Hannah said her main interests are education, health care, women's equality and equal pay.
"Those are all things that directly affect me and a lot of other people as well," she said."I am very fortunate that my parents' health care is very good and that I can stay on it. I hope to attend graduate school when I won't have to worry about keeping health-care benefits."That makes a big difference if you want to stay in school or work your way up for a career. It is hard enough to get a job out of college as it is. It would be nearly impossible to get a job with those benefits you need."But I won't have to worry about getting my own policy until I am done with my schooling," Hannah said."It is good to have your voice heard in elections and politics. Don't be afraid to let people hear your opinions and listen to the issues that will affect you."Earlier this year, Hannah served as a West Virginia legislative page in Charleston. She is also a member of the Washington High School swim team.Reach Paul J. Nyden at email@example.com or 304-348-5164.