Two Horry County residents have been chosen by the South Carolina Democratic Party for the 2016-17 James E. Clyburn Political Fellowship.
Tess Emiroglu of Myrtle Beach and Scott Firsing of Conway are among 46 young professionals who will spend the next year exploring concepts and challenges of party leadership, learning proven campaign strategies and best practices, and developing skills critical to winning elections and ultimately to governing.
“Clyburn Fellows are playing significant leadership roles in our party,” said Jaime Harrison, SCDP Chair. “We are excited by prospects for the future that this program is creating, and we are grateful to Congressman Clyburn for his instrumental role in making the Fellowship a fixture of our party. Together we will fight to turn South Carolina blue, this year and for years to come.”
A lifelong resident of Horry County, Ates (Tess) Emiroglu has been a Democrat since childhood. She started the Young Democrats club at Socastee High School, which her younger sister Erin continues today, and remains active with that student group.
Tess is a political science major at Coastal Carolina University, where she is a full-time student, and serves as a volunteer victim’s advocate with the Horry County Rape Crisis Center, while also working part-time. In March 2016, she was elected 3rd Vice Chair of HCDP.
Tess strongly believes in Democrats’ potential in Horry County, especially through increased outreach and voter registration for the 18-24 year old demographic. She volunteered with the Sanders campaign earlier this year, and is now actively canvassing and supporting Hillary Clinton and Mal Hyman, Democratic candidate for the 7th CD.
Tess believes that Democratic success in the ballot box is vital for Horry County, as well as for our individual and national well-being.
“Being chosen as a Clyburn Fellow will prepare me to be a public servant in South Carolina,” she says. “I have always felt the need to serve others and create change, and the Fellowship will help me to do so. We need to move South Carolina forward, and I’m excited to partner with young Democrats from all over the state to make that happen.”
Scott Firsing, an expert in global politics and national security, has extensive international experience and numerous awards in research and teaching. He is currently Vice President at Aerospace Defense Systems Inc., headquartered in Hilton Head Island, and is an Adjunct Professor for Public and International Affairs at UNC Wilmington. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses at The Citadel and Coastal Carolina University.
Scott graduated from Rutgers University and earned a master’s degree from American Public University (cum laude). He spent 2005-2015 living in South Africa and traveling the world. He worked for five years at Monash University in Australia, serving as a Senior Lecturer, Head of the International Studies Department and as Adjunct Research Fellow. After completing a doctorate in International Politics at the University of South Africa in 2011 at the age of 29, he was selected in 2012 by the London School of Economics and Political Science for intensive training in the U.K. as an African leader. He frequently appears as an analyst on international topics in global media such as Al-Jazeera, Associated Press, BBC, CNBC Africa and others.
With his strong belief in the power of education to transform lives and families, and a personal drive to improve living conditions, Scott has always wanted to get involved in politics. He explains why the Fellowship is important to him:
“Recently returning to the United States after 10 years abroad has been a real eye opener for me. I was appalled how difficult it is to find a job. I was appalled by the price of healthcare. I was appalled by the corruption of the elite.
“America in general has a lot of problems, but South Carolina appears to be worse off compared to most. High crime rate, poverty and poor education are just a few of the issues that need to be tackled. Having young, educated, passionate political leaders that are a part of an organization like the SCDP is a great start.
“I want to be a Member of Congress. I know running for office is hard. I know the political world and it can be very nasty. However, it’s my time to start and I want to run an intelligible campaign. I want to learn the ins and outs of a political campaign from the people who know them well. I don’t want to make rookie mistakes and I feel the knowledge and skills I will learn by participating in the Clyburn Fellowship will help me prepare for the political road ahead.”
Learn more about the Clyburn Political Fellowship here.