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Kinzinger not 'all politics' with Minooka students

Congressman talks about life in Washington

Published: Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

MINOOKA – High school senior Gabby Muir has no plans of becoming a career politician, but there were things U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, said to her Tuesday that hit close to home.

“He said, ‘Chase your dreams, chase your passion. Don’t chase the money,’ and that was pretty inspirational,” the 18-year-old senior at Minooka Community High School said.

Muir was one of about 150 high school students who attended a speaking event Tuesday morning at the high school’s auditorium featuring Kinzinger. During the 50-minute discussion, Kinzinger spoke to students about the responsibilities of being a U.S. congressman and students had the opportunity to ask questions.

Muir, who researched the 36-year-old Kankakee native’s background before attending the presentation, was pleased his speech wasn’t “all politics.”

“I was a little skeptical at first because I’m not really in politics and I don’t really identify as a Republican, but he really surprised me with everything he was saying,” Muir said. “He made it about more than which political party you’re in.”

John Anians, a MCHS senior who’s taking an honors government class, said while Kinzinger’s speech didn’t push him toward a career in politics, he did appreciate the congressman’s pep talk with soon-to-be-graduating seniors like himself.

“He said if you believe in what you want to do in life is going to happen, it’ll happen,” he said.

Muir said she was happy to hear Kinzinger cracking jokes with the audience, as well as his use of the election process to relate to high school seniors on the verge of graduating.

“You may run and lose, right? And every race, one person loses and one person wins. If it’s a big race, sometimes more people lose,” Kinzinger said during his pep talk. “Don’t be afraid to lose because sometimes with failure and defeat, you learn from those things. And don’t run against me, OK?”

One student asked what Kinzinger thought to be the worst part of his gig in Congress.

“The schedule,” Kinzinger answered. “I have no free time. I like to have free time. It’s tough, right? It’s tough to maintain relationships, to see your family, because you’re always working. I didn’t realize how all-consuming the job actually is.”

Kira Compton, a 17-year-old high school senior, said his speech made her less anxious about life post-high school.

“It makes an actual career more viable, more real, because I didn’t realize somebody as real as him could make it that far,” Compton said. “I liked how it was never really his plan or his goal in life yet he got into it anyway.”

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