Becker College Students Attend Republican and Democratic National Conventions

Published on Sunday, August 26th, 2012

A committee of four Becker College administrators selected three students to represent the institution at the presidential national conventions through a seminar program organized by The Washington Center

Matthew Wester ’12, who graduated from Becker in May with a degree in business administration and is going on to pursue a master’s degree at the University of New Haven, and Jake Farrago, a junior studying video game design, are attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Sarah Duchesne, a junior legal studies student, is attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Applicants wrote an essay and were interviewed and selected based on criteria that mirror Becker’s core values: excellence, accountability, community and diversity, social responsibility, integrity, and creative expression.

The Campaign 2012 seminars are academically structured to enhance students’ perspectives on civic engagement through a combination of programming, speakers, site visits, small group discussions, and volunteer work surrounding the 2012 race for the White House.

From the DNC

Sarah Duchesne ’14: I hope that, from this experience, I can learn a lot more about the world of politics. Becker has prepared me for this opportunity by giving students so many chances to be student leaders. I have been an English tutor in the [Collaborative Learning Center] since October 2010, and I am approaching my second semester as a First Year Experience course assistant. My ability to get up in front of a crowd was tested at the very beginning of our first seminar. We had to sign our name in boxes that applied to us. One happened to be, “has sang the national anthem in public before”. Myself and two other young women were the only three in the room that admitted to this, so one of the leaders had us stand on stage and sing the National Anthem in front of the whole seminar!

From the RNC

Matthew Wester ’12 (pictured far right with Jake Farrago ’14, far left, and a fellow TWC student, center): The [Washington Center] program is divided into an academic component consisting of lectures and small group faculty-led discussions coupled with hands-on real-world fieldwork placements in conjunction with the convention. Jake [Farrago] and I have the privilege of belonging to a small group led by Dr. Michael Pfau of the University of San Diego.

I hope that, through this hands-on experience of one of the great national political catalysts that occurs every four years, I will gain insight and perspective on the national political arena. On an academic side, I also hope to determine through the lectures and some interviews if party affiliation still matters in today’s elections, or have we shifted to an issues-based election. By that I mean–do people who have grown up with a party just vote for the party, or do Americans focus down on select issues that matter to them and then pick their candidate based on issue stances?

Professor Aaron Brown of Arizona State University is the journalist in residence for The Washington Center and has given a couple of very interesting talks on the media and the role they play in this process. [Professor Brown] has been a guest in our small group where we actively discussed topics of interest with him and got a chance to interact on a personal level with a three-time Emmy award-winning journalist.

[We have also attended] talks by a great panel put together by The Washington Center:

1.) Hon. Mickey Edwards, J.D., former congressman from Oklahoma and the current vice president of the Aspen Institute
2.) Dr. Meena Bose, the Peter S. Kalikow chair in Presidential Studies at Hofstra University
3.) Dr. Michael A. Genovese, the Loyola Marymount University chair of Leadership Studies and well-known political scientist

Look for more from Matthew, Jake, and Sarah as the conventions unfold.