Brandon Rainwater ’22 is a senior majoring in economics and honors political science with an honors minor in philosophy. He isn’t one to back down from a challenge; on top of being a core member of SwatVotes and Swat Students for Biden in 2021, he has also been in SGO leadership since his sophomore year and spent a semester “abroad” in DC his junior year while interning for Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Rainwater insists that despite his ambition, he didn’t choose Swarthmore; rather, Swarthmore chose him.
“In my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, no one other than a few teachers had even heard of Swarthmore when I applied,” he said in an interview with The Phoenix. “I was initially hoping to go to college in Washington so I could graduate with more hands-on experience as a Hill staffer, but I ended up changing my mind when I came to SwatStruck. I realized that diversifying my areas of study from just politics would help me keep an open mind when I run for office.”
Rainwater said that one of his foremost political inspirations is current Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, whose presidential campaign he organized for in 2019.
“I know it’s cliché to say this, but having grown up gay in a mid-sized city in the Upper Midwest, I never thought it would be possible to see someone like me in the Cabinet and so unashamed of who he is. That’s not to say that I agree with all of his political positions, but I’ve always thought it was brave of him to be openly gay while being the mayor of the fourth largest city in Indiana. Indiana. The middle finger of the South.” He chuckled. “I know I can’t tell you what to publish in the paper, but please don’t write that I said that. It won’t look good for me when I need to win red states.”
Author’s note: I am from Indiana.
Rainwater also mentioned that he has found himself somewhat annoyed recently at the amount of people who tell him “Let’s go, Brandon!”
“I thought it was sort of funny at first, especially because everyone knows I’m a big Biden supporter, but it started to grate on me after hearing it the thousandth time. I can’t help but empathize with anyone named Alexa or Jake, like from State Farm.”
Contrary to how most people see Rainwater, however, he isn’t all politics all the time. On the weekends, he enjoys taking the Regional Rail to Philadelphia and attending concerts by the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also enjoys cutting his own hair and brewing kombucha in his dorm room.
“I got really into brewing kombucha over lockdown, when I was home in Michigan. Like a lot of others, I felt really lonely being trapped in my room for months, especially since my two brothers live far away and I don’t have any pets. Out of desperation I picked up some starter tea from a guy selling it on Craigslist, and got to work sanitizing stuff and coming up with flavor combinations. The best was probably watermelon, while the worst was chocolate banana. I brought my brewing stuff to Swarthmore, and though the temperature sometimes dips too low for the fermentation to go right, it keeps me grounded. Plus, home-brewed kombucha is a hit at gatherings.”
Rainwater lives in Willets, where he is currently an RA. Though he had hoped for an assignment in NPPR or Wharton, he enjoys being there to support first years and sophomores who are still adjusting to the demands of semi-normal operations at Swarthmore. Though he relies on the basement kitchen to sterilize his kombucha brewing equipment, he insists that his brews have never made anyone sick.
“What kind of question is that?” he asked. “And no, I’ve never made anyone sick with my kombucha. I mean, there was the one time when my friend Siddharth [Gandhi ’23] drank some cherry kombucha without telling me that he was allergic to cherries and needed to go to the ER, but I don’t think it’s my fault.”
Rainwater clarified upon question that Gandhi needed to stay in the hospital overnight.
“I don’t really want to give too much away about someone else’s medical information, but I just think if eating something makes you go into anaphylactic shock, it’s your responsibility to check everything you put into your body. Thank God he had an EpiPen in his backpack, otherwise things might have turned out a lot more grim. I just want to reiterate that his reaction to my kombucha was because of an allergy, and not because my equipment was unsterile or full of mold. Even if it was, I’m pretty sure that it would just cause an upset stomach, not immediate death.”
Rainwater then asked, “Are you going to just keep asking me questions about my kombucha? Because I have a [Constitutional Law] seminar paper to write, and contrary to what you may think, I actually value my time.”
Around campus, Rainwater’s favorite study spot is either the Cornell booths or Kohlberg Coffee Bar, where he often relaxes with friends over a cup of joe and a stream of the latest White House press conference. But if you’re not in a hurry, you can also find him in the Oval Office in 20-40 years.