Beyond Convention (Multimedia)
Thanks to funding provided by The Bridgewater State University Foundation, four students attended the recent political conventions. Amy Anderson and Mike Verlezza traveled to the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., while Kayla Harvey and Devin Armstrong attended the RNC in Tampa, Fla, along with Dr. George Serra, professor and chair of political science. We asked for the students' thoughts, and three responded.
It was amazing to participate in this historic event with students from across the United States. There were a number of speakers who educated the group on the presidential nomination process, the role of the convention in an election, the qualities of a candidate, and what holding a political position entails. Being a non-traditional student provided me with the ability to utilize my strengths during my fieldwork placement in Access Control at the Time Warner Cable Arena. I was able to gain hands-on experience working with the DNC staff and Secret Service, which resulted in my being on the arena floor for President Obama’s acceptance speech. This experience gave me first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of this convention, with the vast amounts preparation and attention to detail to facilitate such an enormous event. Opportunities such as this have laid the foundation for me to navigate toward an occupation that will utilize what I have learned inside as well as outside the classroom. Not only did this experience aid in my understanding of the presidential campaign, but it reinforced my desire to educate individuals and hopefully become instrumental in future policy implementation for the commonwealth.
As a registered independent attending the Republican National Convention, I would learn more about the diversity of the American political system. However, the experience was much more than a lesson in the varying perspectives in the American electoral system. While at the RNC, I worked for CNN International, specifically for CNNi anchor, Hala Gorani, who hosts the international news program, I-Desk. For the four days of the convention, I assisted Hala with research for her stories, offered hospitality to I-Desk guests like Condoleezza Rice, John King, and Sen. John McCain, and of course, fetched coffee and did other “intern” things. Also, Dr. Serra and I received special press passes from the Republican National Committee and had the ability to watch the convention from start to finish. As someone who watched national conventions growing up, it's hard to put into words the true importance and impact of being able to watch a convention in person and see a party nominate its candidate for president. Overall, it was a really great experience.
My time in Charlotte was more than a confluence of fortunate events. It was an experience of enrichment and inspiration that will come to define my academic career at Bridgewater State University. Without having experienced it, it’s difficult to imagine two weeks shaping and informing your educational aspirations and your career arc. Having said that, my time in Charlotte still has me asking myself some of the toughest questions I’ve ever had to answer. Interactions with journalist-in-residence, Aaron Brown, forced me to reevaluate my perception of media’s role in government, while personal interchanges with opinion analyst Peter Hart spoke to my quantitative side. I found myself reevaluating my career goals in quantitative finance, wondering if there was a place for me inside the Beltway rather than on Wall Street.
Check out a photo montage of BSU students attending the DNC and RNC.