The first time Kenneth Samuel Ulman voted in a presidential election, he pulled the lever for Bill Clinton -- a candidate he had only seen on television.
Four years later, the 1992 Centennial High School graduate is a paid field coordinator in the president's re-election campaign. He spent the last few months in Iowa preparing for this week's precinct caucuses.
"I never dreamed four years later I'd be in Iowa working on it [campaign]," said Mr. Ulman, 21, whose family lives in Columbia's Village of Dorsey's Hall and who has met the president several times. "We sit back and let Republicans fight amongst themselves."
It's a level of political activism that those who know the University of Maryland senior might have expected.
"I'm not surprised" by his accomplishments, said Rodney McCaslin, Mr. Ulman's high school world and European history teacher. "He was always interested in politics."
Said Diana Ulman, the young political operative's mother: "He has a knack for making the most out of his opportunities."
A government major who currently is on leave as a student at College Park, Mr. Ulman has long been inspired by Mr. Clinton.
"He's a very impressive figure," said Mr. Ulman. "There's almost an aura that surrounds him that I couldn't put into words."
In spring of 1994 while at the University of Maryland, Mr. Ulman got a nonpaid internship at the White House. He worked on data base projects and made phone calls around the country to check on the president's support.
Then the campaign officially started, and he was asked if he wanted to volunteer. He did fund-raising work and traveled to New York, Texas and other states.
When the paid field operations job became available, Mr. Ulman was asked to go to Iowa as one of six field coordinators helping to turn out crowds, work the telephones and arrange presidential visits. He jumped at the opportunity.
"It's been sort of a steam-rolling affect -- working hard and being in the right place," Mr. Ulman said.
Raised in one of the nation's wealthiest counties, Mr. Ulman said he got a different perspective about America in Iowa. There, he met a number of farmers and blue-collar workers.
"When you come out here you really see how the government affects these people," Mr. Ulman said. "They just want a real opportunity."