Student Garrick Wilhelm, Formerly Homeless, Thrives on Political Activism

Monday, January 07, 2019
Photo of Garrick Wilhelm and his chihuahua Eddie

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE -- There was plenty of anti-President Trump sentiment at work — turnout among registered voters in the city was up across the board — but Precinct 9741 also had a San Francisco State University student named Garrick Wilhelm working the levers.

Wilhelm led San Francisco State’s get-out-the-vote initiatives, efforts that contributed to a 60.1 percent turnout in the precinct that encompasses the University. In 2014, that figure was 11.3 percent.

It was an accomplishment made all the more striking because when those 2014 midterms were held, Wilhelm was in his mid-40s, homeless and struggling.

Though Wilhelm avoids claiming credit for voter turnout — they point to generalized “anti-Trump” inclinations and San Francisco State’s history of activism — their efforts were, at the very least, adjacent to a striking rise in participation.

“Being on [the] San Francisco State campus and realizing that I could take a position that had influence,” Wilhelm said. “I’m blown away by all of that.”

This spring, 32 years after graduating from high school, Wilhelm will accept a bachelor’s degree in communications. In the interim, in addition to course work, Wilhelm teaches a class on the rhetoric surrounding homelessness, “the thing I know most about.”

Photo: Garrick Wilhelm and his chihuahua, Eddie.