- Associated Press - Saturday, November 14, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sylvia Yacoub isn’t the usual campaign staffer pioneering for a candidate on the Iowa caucus trail.

She’s a 22-year-old, recently graduated political science major who grew up in Michigan. Sure, that part seems pretty typical. What’s different with Yacoub is, in 2012, she was a top 10 finalist on NBC’s popular television show “The Voice.”

But how does an Egyptian-born, Michigan-raised woman go from the brink of pop stardom to organizing political events for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front runner? It’s simple: For Yacoub, politics and music have always come hand-in-hand.

“I’ve always had an interest for both music and politics,” Yacoub said. “That’s never been separate for me. I think musicians have a platform they can use to raise awareness on issues that really matter to them. I find that to be incredibly fascinating.”

Yacoub, who graduated from the University of Michigan earlier this year, was part of “Team Christina (Aguilera)” on the show. While on “The Voice,” she delivered her own rendition of songs like Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and Rihanna’s “Only Girl In The World.”

She was eliminated from the show in week 3 of the live playoffs, creating a divide in her future. Does she, at 19 years old, venture further into a bout for pop music success, or does she go back to college?

While that decision didn’t come right away - she went to Nashville for a brief period after “The Voice” to record an EP - Yacoub said she’s “very happy” with the end result.

“I find my education very important,” Yacoub said. “Even as a writer, I’m a better writer when I’m more politically and socially aware. I loved going to classes. I knew if I was pursuing politics or law or music, that I’d want to have information and be educated.”

Back in Michigan, Yacoub’s mother, Naglaa Nasr, shows unwavering pride for her daughter’s musical and political accomplishments.

The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1LaNDov ) reports Nasr said she doesn’t see music and political involvement ever separating from her daughter’s life.

“The love for both (is) always there,” Nasr said.

Her time on “The Voice” didn’t end with her coming out on top, but she said she’s taken lessons from the show and applies those to her day-to-day experiences with the Hillary for Iowa campaign.

Yacoub works primarily in Iowa County, where she helps raise awareness for Clinton with tasks such as helping organize events and meeting with community members one-on-one.

“I learned how to be able to express myself very well … having been on the show,” Yacoub said. “I love (that an) aspect of both of these things - ‘The Voice’ and working on the campaign - is connecting with people. I think that was something that translated over.”

Yacoub chose to join the Clinton campaign because she said she feels it’s “the perfect time” for her to make a run for presidency.

“I know that Hillary’s going to be that fighter (who) fights for every day Iowans, every day Americans,” Yacoub said.

She talked about her passion for human rights issues, something she wants to continue to advocate as her career progresses - albeit music, law school or working for a candidate she believes in.

Nasr said she saw her daughter’s political interest blossom her freshman year of college, before appearing on “The Voice.”

“She was always involved in a cause (and) she always used her voice for that,” Nasr said.

As a young Egyptian immigrant, Yacoub came to this country with her family at five years old and found love for both politics and music. A little of each helped play a role in her path to Iowa, and she seems pretty OK with that.

“After talking to so many individuals,” she said. “I realize how much more important this is and how many individual lives are being affected every day by these candidates. I urge people to get involved, if they can.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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