Claremore native Riley Jensen graduated high school less than a year ago and already her young career is blossoming.
She is a full time college student as well as full time employee of Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell.
While still in high school, Jensen decided to join the Rogers County GOP attending local meetings and volunteering her time for local campaigns. That’s how she met Pinnell.
“I felt he was a candidate worth getting more involved with. He stood out to me as different than others,” Jensen said.
Jensen began volunteering for the campaign in fall of 2017. Throughout 2018 she took on more responsibilities, earning herself a larger role as a volunteer coordinator for the statewide campaign.
She did this while finishing her senior year of high school and applying for colleges.
Her unique level of political engagement was born out of a passion for politics cultivated at Claremore High School.
AP US History was the class that most inspired her, and the class she recommends to current students.
“That was the class that was springboard for me to get involved and to pay attention,” Jensen said. “It challenged me more than any other class in high school. ”
Jensen attends the University of Central Oklahoma where she is studying public administration, preparing for a career in politics or in the nonprofit sector.
At 19, Jensen is also Pinnell’s director of constituent services.
“When you come in the office I am the first person you will probably see,” Jensen said. “I take down any constituent concerns or requests, I assist with scheduling and office administration, pretty much whatever needs done, I help facilitate it.”
Jensen said she wasn’t expecting the job offer when it came.
“The lieutenant governor saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and he brought up the opportunity to me after the election,” Jensen said.
Pinnell sold the position by saying that even though she’ll have a lot on her plate as a full-time student, the job is an amazing opportunity to meet people she wouldn’t otherwise meet and get an insiders look at how government works.
Although she has only been in the position for a few weeks, Jensen said she has met leaders from around the state.
“I’m getting a lot of experience in my area even before I graduate college,” Jensen said. “It has been awesome so far.”
To the CHS students hoping to follow in her footsteps Jensen said, “Whatever you believe in, whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or a Libertarian, whatever your belief system is, really invest in that."
"Pay attention and know what your beliefs are before college. In college you are going to have a lot of opportunities to share and act on those beliefs.”