Donald Trump's worst nightmare is running for governor of Maryland.

Krishanti Vignarajah is a force to be reckoned with.

"I hope Marylanders will agree the best man for the job is a woman," Krishanti Vignarajah announced, officially declaring her entry into Maryland's gubernatorial race.

"I am running for Governor because I am worried my daughter will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family here when I was a baby girl."

Vignarajah has never held elected office before, but she was policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. On Aug. 9, she announced that her name would indeed be on the ballot in Maryland's 2018 election.


Vignarajah, who helped launch Obama's Let Girls Learn initiative in 2015, wants to bring her passion for improved access to education to the people of Maryland.

In her campaign announcement, she lists education, the economy, drug addiction, infrastructure, and the environment among her priorities. Just as important, she says, "We need a new generation of leadership that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us."

A woman, an immigrant, and a new mother, Vignarajah embodies both the American Dream and the current president's worst nightmare.

In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Vignarajah discussed her family's journey (they fled Sri Lanka on the brink of civil war when she was nine months old for the U.S. with $200 in their pockets) and reflected on whether they would even be allowed to enter the country had their trip happened in 2017 instead of 1980.

"President Trump, he can demonize immigrants to our country, but the truth for me is there's a family just like mine out there who applied, and they waited their turn, and they want to work hard and pay their taxes and raise a family and live a decent and safe life here," Vignarajah told Cosmo. "Just as immigrants before them have for generations. I know that that story is not only personal to my family, but it’s fundamental to the American experience."

2018 is shaping up to be a big year for women in politics.

It turns out that electing a sleazy, misogynistic, accused sexual predator president led a record number of women to take matters into their own hands and consider running for office. Go figure.

EMILY's List, a group dedicated to helping elect pro-choice Democratic women, saw a huge jump in the number of women showing interest in running for office around the country. According to Vogue, 920 women expressed interest to EMILY's List from the beginning of 2015 to the end of 2016; more than 16,000 have done so in 2017 alone. That's massive.

On Jan. 21, women around the country took to the streets in protest of President Trump. The enthusiasm doesn't seem to have let up. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Vignarajah's advice to other women thinking about running for office? Just do it.

Though she did tell Cosmo that it's important to "think long and hard about whether [running for office] makes sense," she cautioned prospective candidates against becoming paralyzed by indecision or overwhelmed by negativity.

"Don't doubt yourself," she said. "As I was making the decision, there were a lot of considerations. But you have to listen to your heart. And for me, I know that I should run because I’m worried that my baby girl and all of our children would not have the same opportunities that I had growing up in Maryland."

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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