A highly skilled campaigner, American politician Charles "Chuck" Schumer has never lost an election in his life. As the current Senate Majority Leader for the Democrats, Schumer's elevation to one of the most powerful positions in the country comes as the culmination of a political career spanning nearly half a century. Beginning as a state assemblyman in New York in 1975, Schumer worked his way upward, spending eighteen years as a member of the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate for the first time in 1998.
Throughout his time in Washington, Schumer has authored landmark legislation. In particular, he has been a strong advocate for gun control, expansion of access to health insurance, and the right of women to choose to have abortions. Presently he continues to hold numerous important positions with the Senate, making him one of the top political leaders in the country.
It was at Harvard University that Schumer first heard his professional calling. A highly intelligent child, Schumer was admitted to Harvard in 1967 after scoring a perfect 1600 on the SAT and graduating as the class valedictorian of his high school. When Schumer first showed up on the historic Cambridge campus, he had intended to pursue a science-heavy education, with a concentration in chemistry. But like many of his classmates, his adult aspirations were modeled and shaped by college experiences. And by the spring of 1968 he found himself volunteering on the presidential campaign for Democratic senator Eugene J. McCarthy. It was a life-changing experience, causing Schumer to focus more on the political side of campus life.
"I was president of the Harvard Young Democrats and we were mainly involved in the anti-war movement; planning rallies, writing letters and making phone calls and doing all of that. And so it had a major, major effect on me," Schumer wrote.
Nor was Schumer’s political involvement limited to extracurriculars. Academically, he turned his attention to the political arena as well, finishing his senior thesis on congressional politics. After graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1971, Schumer continued his education by enrolling in Harvard Law School, earning his Juris Doctor with honors in 1974.
Since then, Schumer has made sure to return to his alma mater on multiple occasions. In 2006, Schumer – the architect of that year's Democratic takeover of Congress – was back at Harvard. Before an audience of about 200 at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Schumer discussed the dangers of the Democrats not having a compelling, unified message. "If Democrats don’t have a platform, if Democrats don’t have a vision," he said, "we’re going to lose."
A few years later, in 2011, Schumer returned to talk with Harvard students again, this time exploring his party's need to restore the public's faith in the "American Dream." The event, which was organized by several campus groups, allowed the veteran statesman to address his concerns about the American middle class, the state of the economy, and even how Harvard steered him into the life of a public servant, still just trying to do his part.