Former WCHS student runs for Governor


Photo courtesy of Ashwani Jain.

Ashwani Jain is an alumnus of Winston Churchill High School and graduated in 2007. Now he is running for the position of Maryland’s governor.

By Ela Jalil and Maya Bhattiprolu

15 years ago, Ashwani Jain stepped out of the doors of WCHS with a high school diploma. Eight years ago, he returned as the first alumni speaker at graduation. Now, he is running one of the most prominent grassroots campaigns for Maryland governor that includes students from WCHS. 

“I’m a 32 year old cancer survivor, son of immigrants and small business owners, and I’m a product of Maryland Public Schools and [of] Churchill. I’ve been able to work in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to the Obama White House and to federal agencies,” Jain said. “And at the end of the day, I’m running for governor to make politics inclusive and accessible.”

If elected, the 32-year-old Jain would be the youngest governor in the nation, as well as the first person of color to hold the office of governor in Maryland. 

“I understand the idea of feeling disrespected or left out just because of our age. …'” Jain said. “Hopefully with my campaign, I’m elevating those voices, giving you a real seat at the table and beyond just the empty rhetoric that every campaign will say that we care about young people.”

After being diagnosed with cancer at age 13, Jain struggled with the lack of control and strict regiment his treatment required. Because of this, he gained an understanding how this translates into other areas, especially for marginalized groups in the political world.

“A lot of folks feel left out of the process… And like I said earlier, if you’re a young person, you’re told you don’t have enough experience to lead on these issues, even though it’s been young people who have literally created movements to resolve a lot of these issues and bring more equity and fairness and justice to those movements,” Jain said. “And so, yeah, if you look at any policy that I have, it is always comprehensive, it is always paid for and is always made by those communities that are impacted by those decisions.”

Jain first gained his interest in politics when someone from the Barack Obama campaign came to visit his High School Democrats club and he was inspired by the future President’s policies. He also held his first office position as senior class vice president, which gave him a platform to further his leadership skills. 

“Churchill kind of provided that opportunity for that platform, the sense of empowerment, the fact that I could maybe use the challenges that I had in my life, and a nobody like me, could actually be a leader in my high school for this huge presidential campaign. So I felt empowered to make a difference not only in my community, but the community around it as well and help those who have similar struggles,” Jain said. 

Jain prides himself on the direct access he gives his volunteers and the opportunities he provides for community discussion and uses his platform to elevate their voices and make their concerns heard. 

“He’s young, energetic, and extremely personable. He often hosts community town halls where he provides the opportunity for anyone of any background to talk about policy initiatives important to them. This is extremely unique in a political candidate and shows how Ashwani is truly revitalizing politics,” WCHS junior and the Young Democrats club’s Raina Kella said. “He is extremely responsive to everyone over social media/text which really stands out to me considering he is a political candidate. It shows he really cares and makes time for his constituents. Sometimes, he seems like both a friend and advisor.”

A priority for Jain was to have a completely crowdsourced and volunteer run campaign, something that he has accomplished with over 600 senior leaders on his team. Pulling support from all age groups, Jain boasts an age range from middle school students to 97-year-olds. 

“I’ve learned so much from working on his campaign but what has stuck with me most was learning the power of compassion in politics and how to be an effective and efficient organizer, Kella said. “Seeing how Ashwani is able to connect with so many people of so many backgrounds across Maryland and is dedicated to making his campaign as accessible as possible really shows his compassion and inspires me.”

Jain encourages students to get involved with the political process and continues to advocate for what they believe in. Especially for those old enough to vote in the upcoming elections, Jain hopes they understand the importance of being an informed and active citizen and showing up and speaking out, regardless of what others say. 

“My biggest advice is to do it. There’s a lot of intimidation that goes into campaigns and politics… there’s a lot of factors that prevent young people from getting involved,” Jain said. “But if you’re passionate about your community, if you have good ideas or even ideas that you think could benefit people around you, then don’t let anybody tell you no, and find a way to get involved.”