Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hofstra Students Attend National Conventions

Though the Conventions for both major political parties have come and gone, their effect is still felt in the polls and policy announcements leading up to the General Election on November 6.  Some in the Hofstra community are able to reflect on the impact of these political events more intimately, having attended them.  Two of these students, Simran Nanda and Marina Pino, share their stories below.

Simran Nanda is a sophomore political science major at Hofstra University.  She wishes to be an attorney and, one day, run for Congress.  She was in Charlotte, NC during the 2012 Democratic National Convention (August 25-September 7). 

Simran Nanda during the 2012 DNC.
I remember back in February when I was informed that I had been chosen to represent Hofstra at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had been so excited and thrilled. I didn’t know much about what I was going to do, but I knew it was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Fast forward to the end of the DNC in September, I recall my disappointment when I was no longer able to attend Obama’s speech due to a change in venue--but I’m still grateful that I had the chance to attend the DNC and am thankful to Hofstra for giving me this opportunity. I had the chance to listen to some inspirational speakers and hear their stories. I met Ohio delegate Bill DeMora, a California delegate, delegates from my own state (NY), NC legislator Tricia Cotham, FOX News Anchor Israel Balderas, Congressman Melvin Watt, and so many more people, which is definitely something I will never forget.

My fieldwork was with the DNC Committee and I was in charge of interior hall access control, which means I was in charge of checking people’s credentials to make sure they were allowed in. There were many different sorts of credentials and each type of credential would get you access into different areas. For example, there were floor passes, backstage passes, podium passes etc. I often had to turn people away because they did not have the credentials necessary to access a certain area. I also attended my state’s delegation party at the Discovery Place. The party was actually for a whole bunch of state delegations and I got to go around and network with my state's delegates; but what was really amazing was that I connected even better with the delegates from the other states. They were all extremely welcoming and interested in helping a college student with anything they could possibly do.

I also took away an even greater lesson. This convention was supposed to be the most open and accessible in history but so much of the public was turned away simply because there were not enough seats in the convention hall, so people who wanted to get involved couldn't. This made me realize that in order for people to become more involved in politics, they need to be given more opportunities to get involved. People will only understand and want to be involved in our government if they are given the chance and now more than ever, we need people to be actively engaged--especially young people. So, I’m glad I went to the DNC and recognized this because now I can have the insight I need to make a difference in my own community.

The passion and energy I saw at the DNC do not have to be reserved for grand national events; we can have them right here as well. In the end, even though I missed out on the actual convention events, I can still say I was down in Charlotte for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. I was still in the midst of it all and that’s not a thing most people can say.

Hofstra senior Marina Pino, who is a history major with a political science minor, was one of the two students selected to represent Hofstra University at the 2012 Republican National Convention, which took place from August 18-31 in Tampa, FL.
Marina Pino at the 2012 RNC.

Back in January I received an email from Student Affairs about the opportunity to attend either the RNC or DNC this summer.  Hofstra was offering two spots per convention to attend the National Convention Seminars sponsored by The Washington Center.  While I was working as a student aide in the History Department last February, Dr. Meena Bose asked me to step into her office and informed me that I was one of the two students selected to attend the RNC.  Little did I know at that moment what a life-changing experience this program would be.

I was assigned to work the political unit of the local Fox13 Tampa news station.  My experience with the Fox13 team was truly rewarding; I learned so much about news media and politics during the brief six days I had with them.  I worked directly for Craig Patrick, the station’s political editor, and his camera crew.  During my first two days with Fox13, I worked with Craig developing potential Q&A about the history of conventions as well as how they have evolved to be the events they are today.  My research and script-writing (yes, script writing!) was mainly to be used for the station’s Sunday preview segment which they were developing in hopes to further educate the Tampa locales about the upcoming convention and its effects upon their home city.

After a rather brief, but nevertheless overpowering hurricane scare in the days leading up to the convention, the gavel dropped at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Monday, August 27 (only to be called into immediate recess).  My placement with Fox13 officially began at the convention site that Tuesday.  I did not expect to be contributing as much as I did, since I had no experience in television media prior to my arrival in Tampa a week before, but the political team made sure I was involved in every step they took while covering the convention.  I was even allowed access to the convention floor!  I assisted Craig and his cameraman as they interviewed several members of state delegations and media personnel while the speeches were underway at the Times Forum.  I learned so much by just observing how each interview was conducted in its own unique way.
So, how do I briefly sum up this whirlwind once-in-a-lifetime-experience?  Well, that’s impossible.  Having been given this wonderful opportunity by Hofstra University to expand my undergraduate career is something, for which I will forever be grateful.  As graduation day approaches, I feel extremely fortunate to reflect upon how I was given the opportunity to compliment my studies in the classroom with my fieldwork experience at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

So, with the election fast approaching and everyone on campus getting geared up for the debate, students like Simran and Marina have immersed themselves fully in electoral fervor.  How will you be getting involved as Election Day 2012 nears?


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