Denny Ruprecht is currently a state representative in New Hampshire, in addition to studying as an undergraduate student at Plymouth State University. In his time in FBLA, he served as a state officer for New Hampshire FBLA from 2014-2017, and he is a three-time NLC competitor. Denny agreed to sit down with FBLA National President Eu Ro Wang to share his experiences and his tips for FBLA members looking to go into government.
Hi Denny! What was your overall best memory in FBLA?
I don’t think I could pin one down! What I look back on most positively are the relationships formed. Being a state officer, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over my state. Going to NLC, I got to do the same with people all over the country. I look fondly back on the 4 years of relationships I built with my state officer team and advisors and the experiences that I was able to have with them at states and NLC. I went to 3 NLC trips, and those were always the highlight of my FBLA career.
What do you do now?
I am now a college student and a New Hampshire state representative. I serve in the New Hampshire House of Representatives!
Why did you go into government?
I have always been interested in business as well as government, and there I see a lot of overlap. They are closely intertwined, and I have had a longstanding passion for the two. I always saw myself going into business – and I still might – but in the past few years have become more interested in government and politics. I got involved pretty serious into politics in 2016, when I got in contact with two of my state representatives about political issues. Through that, I build a relationship with my state representative. She suggested I get involved with a committee within the state legislature and the youth advisory council, and I then got involved with a presidential campaign pretty seriously. Because New Hampshire is such a small state, New Hampshire politics is even smaller, so I was able to manage a state senate campaign twice as well. Building relationships lead me to run for office in 2018, and here we are now! It has been a good few years!
What is your favorite part about working in government and the state legislature?
My favorite parts are definitely the relationships and the problem solving. I think that a lot of the issues we face can be pretty intimidating, but I am someone who always gets excited about solutions. One of the things I love most about this is that business is a mechanism to solve problems and make money off of it as well. I always look at “doing good” and “doing well” philosophy that a business can make a lot of money while serving a need in society, and form a business lens the government does this as well. My favorite part about it is solving problems that people need in the real world, and again the relationships that I began building in FBLA have helped that happen.
What should people do to prepare for a job in government, whether they want to learn how to run a campaign or become a legislature?
Since we’re talking about FBLA students here, I think that FBLA is a great starting point! FBLA really teaches people the soft skills that are important, like how to introduce yourself to somebody, how to write a résumé, how to interview, and all of the small things that you have to do. Following up with people and these small personal things are what make a big difference, so the best thing to do is to learn how to interact with people, and FBLA does a great job of teaching that!
What are some struggles with working in government?
It can be incredibly frustrating at times because of the system itself. For example, I serve at the state house as one of 400 representatives, and it can be very challenging to feel like you are making a difference at times in that crowd. It is important to work from that frustration and remember that you are there to solve problems and represent people. The biggest frustration is that government works in a very different way from business at times. It can be a lot slower and less responsive, but at the end of the day the system is designed that way for good reason. When we look at the gridlock, especially on a federal level, we see that our system is designed for consensus and the best possible outcome.
One final question: What are some tips you would give to FBLA students who are aspiring to be in government and take on roles like you have?
The most important thing is to just show up, and that is half of the battle! Whatever opportunities are available to any student, like there are in New Hampshire because politics and government are so accessible, should be taken advantage of. At the local level, you should show up to your local school board meetings, your local party meetings, and contact your local legislature. Even getting involved on a campaign on the grassroots level and volunteering is a way to show up and be noticed and climb as you do it!
Thank you for your time, Denny!