When Florida delegate Chelsi Henry first walked onto the Tampa Bay Times Forum floor, she was rendered speechless.
“It’s amazing. It’s beyond anything I could ever dream of,” she said yesterday of her time at the convention so far.
Henry is the youngest of the 50 delegates representing Florida at the 2012 GOP convention, and at 24 she is one of the youngest of the 2,286 total delegates.
Henry shatters the rich-old-white-male image Democrats likes to project on the Republican party. She is none of those things and embraces the opportunity she’s been given to represent minorities and young people in the GOP.
Young, beautiful, and black, Henry is a Florida native and a third-year law student at the Florida Coastal School of Law. She holds a seat on Duval County’s Soil and Water Conservation District, to which she was elected fresh out of undergrad in 2010.
She is passionate about the world water crisis, a problem she studied in Belgium during her senior year as an undergraduate at University of North Florida. She had done the research and when she came back to Florida, she decided to put it to use for the good of the Jacksonville community.
According to her website, she holds offices in eight different organizations (including several young and black Republican groups) and was appointed by Florida’s CFO Jeff Atwater as his representative for the northeast part of the Sunshine State.
But her early success was anything but a given. Born to a 16-year-old mother, Henry grew up on welfare.
She is the first Republican from her family but insisted she has always been that way. “I knew from my experience that I didn’t want [government assistance],” she said. “I wanted my own American dream.”
After winning her Duval County seat in 2010, she applied and was picked to represent Florida along with the 98 other Floridians at the 2012 convention.
Asked if she is planning on a political future, Henry simply said she wants to continue to be a voice in the Republican party for young people and minorities. Right now, she said, she’s just focusing on serving the people of Duval County and finishing law school.
After the 2012 GOP convention concludes, remember the name Chelsi Henry: a young woman with a bright future in the Republican party. “It’s not how you start,” she said, of herself and the American experience at large, “it’s how you finish.”