The youngest delegate to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention is a high school student from Independence. Rachel Gonzalez is just 17 years old, but is already making her voice heard on a national stage.
"My birthday is in October so I get very lucky there," said Gonzalez outside the convention hall in Philadelphia.
Gonzalez beat out many other women for two female positions in the delegation representing Missouri's 5th Congressional District.
She first became a fan of Clinton when she attended a Clinton rally in 2008. Gonzalez was only 9 years old. She'll turn 18, just in time to vote for Clinton this fall.
"I'm so excited that I'll be using my first vote on her in November," said Gonzalez.
Next month, Gonzalez will enter her senior year at William Chrisman High School in Independence. But for now, she's enjoying her unique summer vacation in Philadelphia.
"I went to my delegate party," said Gonzalez. "Delegate welcome party Sunday and I had to go to five different places to find a non-alcoholic drink, which was super crazy."
Another big highlight came Tuesday night, as Gonzalez watched from the stands as Clinton became the first female nominee of a major party.
"I've been interested in politics since I was 9 years old. My first campaign rally was a Hillary Clinton rally in 2008—that's where I got really excited about the political process. I leaned over to my mom and said, "Mom, I'm voting for Hillary Clinton." And then she crushed my dreams when she told me that I wouldn't be able to vote until I was 18. So on that day, I made a countdown to when I would be registered to vote. I started at 3,187 days, and now I'm registered. My birthday's in October, so I'm excited to use my first vote on Hillary Clinton.” —Rachel, 17, Missouri, Hillary's youngest delegate at the Democratic Convention #DemsInPhilly
"It's great that Hillary Clinton is a woman, but that's not the reason I support her," said Gonzalez. "I support her because she's the most qualified person running for president."
Someday Gonzalez hopes to run for office herself. Until then, she's perfectly happy applauding someone else.
Justin Wilfon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.