Letter to the editor: Zach Wahls just knocked on my door

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Andrea Keech and Zach Wahls. — photo by Zach Wahls, courtesy of Zach Wahls

By Andrea McGann Keech, Iowa City

A very personable, articulate and intelligent young man just knocked on my door. Zach Wahls is closing in on his 2,000th door! The admirable man he has become was evident as an eighth grader in my English class. He impressed me tremendously even then. After researching the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, he was incredulous that there was no monument to her in Washington. He said one day he would change that. I have no doubt he will.

I wrote a letter recommending him for the rank of Eagle Scout that year. Zach was a brilliant writer who went on to great success writing for the West Side Story newspaper in high school. He published a best-selling memoir before finishing college. Many students participated in our speech and debate club. Zach, however, came back faithfully throughout his successful high school debate career to coach the Northwest eighth graders to a series of consecutive state titles despite his already very full schedule. I was his first investor in a peer tutoring service that paired bright, motivated upperclassmen with students who benefited from their help.

Back in eighth grade, I told him that if he kept up his zeal for making a positive difference in the world, one day Harvard would come knocking on his door. Years later, that actually happened, although he chose the smaller class sizes at Princeton for his graduate work.

In this community, exceptional students aren’t rare, but a person like Zach Wahls has always been remarkable for his sense of fairness, for giving back to others, and for his dedication to doing what’s right. His moral compass always points true north. He is the kind of inspirational, exceptional person we so desperately need as a leader today. I have no doubt Iowans will benefit from his public service for a very long time to come in state and national politics. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Zach Wahls for state senator. He represents the very best of what our state has to offer.

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  1. Yes. A resounding yes. I am no longer a resident in Iowa but I remember the day I met Terry Wahls… she gave an inspiring lecture while I was a medical student at the University of Iowa about her success with battling MS. Not long after, Zach was on Ellen after giving his speech to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee concerning gay marriage. What a privilege to have a connection to both Terry and Zach, even if it’s just that they are from my state. Zach, thank you for fighting the good fight and for giving so much of yourself. You are helping make the world a better place!

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