Sruthi Palaniappan
Sruthi Palaniappan

PHILADELPHIA (Diya TV) — Eighteen-year-old Sruthi Palaniappan, who hails from the Midwest state of Iowa, is the youngest Indian American delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

“It’s so amazing to see the political process first-hand,” the young political activist said. Palaniappan said she’s been most inspired by the speeches delivered by New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker and First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Booker completely captivated the audience,” she said.

She currently serves as precinct captain for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Before the Feb. 1 Iowa Caucus, Palaniappan, a senior at Iowa’s Linn-Mar High School organized volunteers to canvass the precinct, knocking on doors to garner support for Clinton.

On the day of the Caucus, Palaniappan verified delegates allotted to Clinton, and convinced voters who were still on the fence. While she was successful in convincing a number of voters who had yet to decide whom they were going to support between Clinton and Sanders, Palaniappan found that those who had already decided on the latter candidate were much more stubborn to sway.

“Once you’ve aligned yourself with a candidate, it’s harder to switch sides,” she said.

When the convention began Monday, Sanders supporters incessantly booed party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, accusing her, Clinton and senior party leadership of “rigging” the election. “This situation will get better. Sanders’ supporters did respect what he had to say,” Palaniappan said in response.

Sanders spoke at the Iowa delegates’ breakfast July 26. “He said we have to unify to beat out Trump,” said Palaniappan, adding: “This is the message we have to bring back to our communities.”

Palaniappan’s father – Palaniappan Andiappan – is also attending the DNC, as a member of the credentials committee.

Palaniappan, who will ship off to Harvard University this fall to study government and global health, said she hopes to one day run for public office. She seeks to “impact the day to day lives of people.”

She was just one of 50 young women from around the nation who participated last month in the 2016 Distinguished Young Women of America competition. Palaniappan won two awards at the competition: $1,000 for scholastics; and $2,000 for the Wintzell’s Oyster House My Town Award in memory of Betty Copeland. She was also selected as a finalist and received a separate $2,500 scholarship.