Student Spotlight: Ryan Walfoort

Ryan Walfoort
Ryan Walfoort

Poly sci major serving as campaign manager for Minnesota House candidate

Ryan Walfoort, 21, took a conservative approach to life as a child. Ryan wore a suit and tie in elementary school. He was in fourth grade when his dad gave him a copy of The Constitution of the United States of America. (Note: You can buy a hardcover copy of the U.S. Constitution from Walmart for $8.99 +$5.99 for shipping.) He was a fifth grader when he read Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s magnum opus on the munificence of ethical egoism.

As he grew older, Ryan became more idealistic and altruistic. He stood up to bullies in school and developed a passion for helping people through civic engagement and political action. Today, Ryan serves as the campaign manager for Geoff Dittberner, who is running for a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, District 52B.

Ryan loves the inner workings of democracy and has a head for politics. He is happiest when he’s advocating for people searching for their own political voice.

More about Ryan…

A 2015 graduate of Eagan High School, Ryan is earning his Associate of Arts (A.A.) with an Emphasis in Political Science at Inver Hills Community College. He is on track to graduate in spring 2019. He plans on transferring to Minnesota State University, Mankato, to major in political science with the mid-range goal to earn a master’s degree in public administration.

Ryan’s first attempt at higher education did not go as planned. He enrolled at Inver Hills and got involved in LeadMN, formerly the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA), and served as Student Senate secretary for a time in 2015, but he did not meld with his classes and was subsequently suspended.

“That was a very dark period of my life,” Ryan said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I eventually went to work as a business customer service specialist for AT&T in the Twin Cities greater metro area. My job centered on resolving delinquent accounts for small businesses, corporations and government. I was making great money and was really good at my job, but I wasn’t happy.”

Three words that describe you as a politically conscious person:
HUMBLE. COMPASSIONATE. AWESTRUCK.

In fall 2016, Ryan got a job as a canvasser for the Minnesota DFL Party. He campaigned and advocated for Minnesota State Senate and House candidates throughout the state.

“We traveled everywhere in Minnesota,” Ryan recalled. “We invested so much time and effort, but ended up losing virtually every race. Looking back, that job as a canvasser was the best experience of my life.”

From there, Ryan landed a consultant role with Representative Rick Hansen (DFL), District: 52A. He focused on enhancing brand awareness and implementing marketing strategies while managing daily social media outreach.

His current job as Geoff Dittberner‘s campaign manager involves overseeing talent recruitment and retention, organizing volunteers, supervising financial and fundraising operations, creating and running the candidate’s website, and targeting key voter segments.

“I also cover the candidate’s social media accounts and provide photography services, including video production and photo editing,” Ryan reported. “I worked with my Inver Hills poly sci instructor, Zachary Sullivan, to turn my campaign manager job into a four-credit internship for spring semester 2018.”

Going back to college

Ryan was deeply troubled by his college suspension and was worried he would be unable to continue his education and earn a degree. He turned to his grandfather, Robert Larranaga, for help.

“My grandpa has had a hugely positive influence on my life,” Ryan said. “He told me to be persistent and inspired me to write a letter to Inver Hills explaining why I was ready to go back to school.”

Three words that describe you as a college student:
UNCONVENTIONAL. DRIVEN. STUBBORN.

That strategy was rewarded and Ryan returned to Inver for fall semester 2017. He has engaged the college community via various social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. In fact, Ryan is scheduled to take over the Inver Hills Instagram account for the entire week of November 13, 2017.

“I first learned about Ryan through the wonderful photos he shared with the campus on Instagram,” said Rachel Marzahn, interactive media coordinator in the college’s Marketing and Communications department. “I thought it would be cool if a student could take over our account for a week with the idea to give people a view into the daily life of an Inver student—and Ryan volunteered.”

Ryan commutes to college and work from Inver Grove Heights—he’s originally from Savage, Minnesota. His mom, Jeanne, works for Blue Cross Blue Shield; his dad, Bob, is a master plumber. His stepdad, Jeff, works for Optum. Ryan has two brothers, John, 26, a plumber’s apprentice and Minnesota State Mankato alumnus, and Shane, 23, who graduated from Mankato with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

In his free time, Ryan enjoys reading—he is proud to be called a bookworm—and photography (he shoots with a Canon Rebel T6). He ranks both hobbies as ideal conduits for alleviating the unavoidable stress of college and political life.

Ryan Walfoort Inver Hills gallery

Take over Inver Hills Instagram for a week

Ryan Walfoort: Inver on Instagram

Are you a photographer looking for a fun challenge? Are you an Inver Hills student interested in showcasing your involvement in student clubs and organizations? Do you want to let our campus community know how Inver is helping you discover the power and promise of higher education?

We are looking for enthusiastic, innovative students who would like to take over the college’s Instagram account for one week. Our goal is to give the world week-long glimpses into the varied, on-the-go lives of as many Inver students as we can.

Follow the link below to complete and submit a short online form:

Inver Instagram for a week

Ryan Walfoort photo gallery

Ryan Walfoort Q & A

Ryan Walfoort

Ryan Walfoort

What are your long-range career goals?
Right now, I’m working to make sure my candidate wins his race for the Minnesota House. In the future, I would like to pursue public affairs in Washington, D.C.

Why did you first connect with Inver on social and what keeps you engaged and posting?
I love photography and enjoy sharing my work. Social media is a great way to connect with people and make friends. Social media is also made for networking and political advocacy.

What social channels do you use and which are your favorites and why?
I’m on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which I use a lot for my political work. Pinterest is my guilty pleasure.

What role do you see social media playing in your future career?
In politics, social media is everywhere and it’s the perfect tool for organizing events and communicating with volunteers. I also use social media for press releases.

What has been your toughest challenge in life?
I’m an unconventional person and that made it hard for me to adjust to college on my first try.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far?
Returning to Inver Hills to complete my degree.

Ryan Walfoort | 21 Answers

Ryan Walfoort

  1. KoalaFavorite season: Fall
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Cliffs on the North Shore of Lake Superior
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Jogging, especially in state parks
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Cockatiel
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Sydney, Australia—I have friends there.
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas
  7. Your national mammal if you could have one: Koala
  8. Favorite actor or actress: Ben Whishaw
  9. Cloud CultFavorite band or performing artist: Cloud Cult
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Break down barriers.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Human ingenuity
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Unfiltered hate
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Scrubs
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Cloud Atlas
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Help as many people as possible
  16. Most precious material possession: Canon Rebel T6
  17. Canon Rebel T6First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: Create a massive political nonprofit and build on it.
  18. Dream occupation: White House press secretary
  19. Person you would most like to meet: President Barack Obama—because I have pre-existing conditions, the Affordable Care Act helped save my life
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Adobe Photoshop
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: Inability to understand each other and empathize
To learn more about earning an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree at Inver Hills, contact:

Admissions Team
651-450-3000
College Center

To learn more about the A.A. with an Emphasis in Political Science, contact:

Zack Sullivan, EdD
Political Science Faculty
651-450-3727

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