Ella Briman, Cape Elizabeth class of 2021, completed an internship with U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon from June to November 2020 and with Sen. Jon Ossoff from December 2020 to January 2021, when he was running for office in Georgia. Courtesy photo Ella Briman

CAPE ELIZABETH — After a senior year spent surrounded by the coronavirus pandemic, Ella Briman, a Cape Elizabeth High School student, said she is unable to keep her political focus at a local level, having realized the greater scope of the world.

As she prepares for graduation, Briman, who will attend Dartmouth College in the fall, reflected on her high school career, where she said she interned for two political campaigns and also participated in her school’s theater productions, Model United Nations and World Affairs Council.

“I’ve done a lot of work with local politics,” she said. “I interned on Sara Gideon’s campaign last summer and fall, which was a great experience. It taught me so much about field work and connecting with voters in Maine and about campaign work as a whole. I also briefly interned online for a campaign for (Sen.) Jon Ossoff in Georgia.”

Briman focused on making connections, she said. Her responsibilities with both campaigns involved voter outreach.

“(I made) general phone calls to voters, asking them about their plans for voting, not only about who they plan to vote for, but also to ensure they could get absentee ballots because of the huge focus this year,” she said. “I also got to see other parts of campaigns like finances and communications.”

Because her internships were remote, Briman was able to meet people throughout the state in online settings, she said.

“I think that having the ability to have everything be online and virtual made people a lot more easy to talk to, which was interesting, and I don’t know if I would have had the chance to speak with people in northern Maine had Maine not been in a pandemic,” she said. “I was pretty nervous because I hadn’t done anything like that before, but the benefit of everything being remote was that I was able to connect with people who I might never had met had this been in-person, some of whom I’m still in touch with today. These were people I had met six months ago at this point, so I’m really grateful I had a chance to meet these people and hopefully make lifelong connections.”

In college, she plans to study government or political science as well as public policy and international relations, she said.

Entering high school, Briman said she was less sure of what she wanted to do after graduation. After experiencing the pandemic, she found that she was focused on global news.

“I think, living in towns like Cape Elizabeth and South Portland, it can be easy to just focus on our immediate surroundings,” Briman said. “But it’s been tough to not look to the greater issues our society’s been facing, whether that’s reckoning or battling with systemic racism or a pandemic or skyrocketing unemployment.  I feel like there’s so much work that needs to be done, and I think policy is a concrete way you can make change. It definitely requires a lot of patience to see that change go through and hard work and advocating, but I think that is a channel to see a difference.”

Briman desires addressing problems people have been facing for decades, she said.

“A lot of people talk about how they want to make a difference and leave the world in better shape than they found it, and the best way to do that is by looking outside of your own circle and seeing where else you can make a difference,” Briman said. “I think making local change is absolutely important and everything starts on a local basis, but I think also gaining that perspective of looking beyond your hometown is really important for gaining a understanding of how the world works. ”

As her time at Cape Elizabeth High School ends, Briman is ready for a new setting, she said.

“I really enjoyed getting to know people, getting to make what I hope are lifelong friends,” Briman said. “I think that Cape has had a really great community and by pursuing so many different activities within the high school, I’ve been able to make a lot of great friends.”

Briman said she found remote learning, which was implemented in March of 2020 due to the pandemic, difficult to adjust to and frustrating, but having more remote means of communication made more programs and opportunities accessible.

“It’s been definitely an interesting year, but I think I made the best of it,” she said. “I’ve been so in awe of the administration and teachers who have been figuring this out for us and working around the clock, trying to meet the requests of parents and also make this an active school year for us. It’s been sad, not seeing my entire grade at times, but I think they’ve made they best of it.”

This summer, Briman plans to work with the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, where she will be out on the trails and helping to preserve land, she said.

While in college and after leaving campus, Briman said she is interested in pursuing advocacy and nonprofit work, both of which she finds interesting.

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