Senior Pulls Off “Kay-sick” Promposal


Photo courtesy of Julia Khan

Among her peers and teachers, senior Julia Khan is well-known for her passion for politics and her active presence on social media. It came as no surprise to many then, when two weeks ago, Julia posted a selfie video on Twitter of former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich (who was still in the presidential race then) helping her ask her date to prom.

“My friend and I agreed that we were going to go to prom a few months ago and we’d been coordinating it since,” Julia said. “Then I got tickets to a John Kasich town hall and I remember seeing it online that someone used Ted Cruz to ask his girlfriend to prom. And I was like, ‘You know what, why not me?’…I thought it was funny to use a candidate whose views you don’t align with to pull a jump stunt and so I did.”

The story broke on ABC News the next day, and other media outlets quickly picked it up, including Gawker, Jezebel, The Hill, New York Magazine and even CBS News. Several articles injected a note of punch line humor, capitalizing on the fact that despite Kasich’s help, Julia and her date were staunch Hillary Clinton supporters. Still others editorialized, calling the promposal “awkward” or Julia and her date “ungrateful teens.” Through it all, Julia maintained a sense of fascination and wry humor at the commotion she had created.

“The awkward one was a little funny because I don’t know how you could derive ‘awkward’ from that video,” Julia said. “Or can you and I’m not aware of that? I think I don’t blame them for wanting to give their story a little extra oomph. Jezebel called me ‘ungrateful.’ I don’t know if they were being sarcastic or not…But that one, if they weren’t being sarcastic, I think it’s not how elections work, that you vote for the candidate that you thought did you a personal favor even if their policies don’t align with yours whatsoever.”

Julia is no stranger to this sort of media attention, having experienced it in her freshman year when she posted a photo collage on Facebook embracing cultural and religious diversity. The post received more than 50,000 likes and thousands of shares.

Similarities abound between the two moments of internet fame – savvy use of social media, frank openness about sharing who she is, and negative responses littering the comments section. Yet Julia has learned to both process and brush off the negativity as an inevitable aspect of social media. A large part of her attitude stems from watching her role model, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, handle life under public scrutiny.

“In my heart, I still think [Clinton] is a good politician, so I guess if she can be attacked on social media and still be a respectable person, so can I,” Julia said. “I just hope Hillary Clinton saw this and knows that I’m a fan of hers. I hope that somewhere out there, Huma [Abedin, Clinton’s aide] came up to her and was like, ‘You know what, some teen just pulled a stunt on John Kasich for you.’ That’s what I want out of this.”

Julia describes her social media philosophy as “chaos” but also recognizes that she uses social media far more strategically than the average teenager. It was no coincidence that she’s had two viral internet moments during high school.

“I think that Twitter serves as a really valuable linkage institution between myself and politicians who I admire,” Julia said. “I’ve always been a very opportunistic person, and I think there are opportunities on social media that not a lot of people take advantage of. [For example,] Senator Cory Booker has tweeted at me three times [and] I DM’ed him because he followed me. Cory Booker is obviously an outlier in terms of politicians who interact on social media. But people are there for you to talk to, especially during election cycles. I think it’s ridiculous to not take advantage of that.”

Right now, Julia says her usage of social media is mainly for her enjoyment and expression.

“For…my album of senior year pictures that I post on Facebook, I really just have [that] because I think it’s fun to click through it and see everything I’ve done this year,” Julia said. “So it’s just really for me, versus presenting myself to the world…Maybe this is just me being shortsighted, impulsive, but the benefits of getting to share this part of me with the world outweigh the cost of someone maybe disagreeing with me.”

As for where social media will take her in the future, Julia has no idea, but she’s happy to go with the flow.

“It’s just chaos,” Julia said. “And I’m going to see what happens from that chaos.”