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The Sound of Opportunity Knocks

The Sound of Opportunity Knocks

When Perkins High School senior Ar'Ciele Oglesby-Riddle set out to observe the canvassing efforts of her mother Loretta Riddle, a local attorney specializing in family and criminal law, in area neighborhoods, she expected polite conversations as a part of efforts to gather enough signatures to place ​​her mother on next November’s ballot as a candidate for Erie County Juvenile Court Judge.

What Ar'Ciele did not anticipate was the frank discussions with community members about personal views on the county's political workings and conditions.

"My initial expectations were how this is going to go, and that people would have a lot of questions," Ar'Ciele said. "I felt prepared as I wasn’t going to be knocking on any doors, but just observing my mom do so."

But reality included slammed doors and unanswered knocks.

"The rejection part I wasn’t expecting, because it didn’t cross my mind."

Beyond the sting of rejection, Ar'Ciele found a connection during an extended conversation with a local teacher who has worked with students involved in the county’s juvenile justice system. As Ar'Ciele described it, “A teacher answered the door, and had a conversation with my mom for about 25 to 30 minutes just about what she experiences with students in the detention home.”

For Ar'Ciele, this moment illuminated the human impact at the heart of local politics. Over weeks traversing neighborhoods in Perkins Township, Ar'Ciele gained hard-won wisdom. 

"I’ve learned that if I ever want to do something in the political field, you have to stomp the pavement," she said. "Every door opened is a new connection – and potential vote – so you have to have a little introduction. I’ve learned not to be scared of rejection (even though it’s frustrating) because there are many other doors."

Ar'Ciele also interacted with voters and community members, hearing new perspectives on the issues.

"We recently knocked on a police officer's door, and he gave us more insight," she said. The police officer was saying how he has sympathy for the juvenile, but there's not too much police can do."

These conversations refined Ar'Ciele’s views on many of the issues related to juvenile justice.

Through this Academy Experience under her mother’s wing, Ar'Ciele flew closer to the flame of civic engagement. She gained practical skills in canvassing communities, built connections, and absorbed insights that will guide her into the future. Most of all, Ar'Ciele discovered the sound of opportunity with each knock — whether answered with a smile or a shutting door. Because in local politics, every interaction sparks a chance for progress. 

Even though Ar'Ciele is passionate about politics, she is still undecided about her future career plans at the moment. She will be able to apply the lessons learned in her Academy Experience about persistence and listening to diverse perspectives to whatever career she pursues.  

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