Brandon Jay '13

JayFinally! My day has arrived to begin to describe my experience at the Democratic National Convention Seminar hosted by The Washington Center. I begin to write as the second day comes to an end and already, mixed emotions have set in. One part of me wants to head to bed in preparation of the next day, while the next is too excited to sleep.

Sleep? That is one thing I feel I may become unfamiliar with down here in Charlotte. The schedule is jam-packed with expert speakers from various states that are here to give us all a better understanding on politics and the convention. After the speakers, we all head to lunch and our small group meetings. Our group meetings average about 2 hours. These group meetings are almost identical to a political science class. After the meeting, we all receive our “free time”. Unfortunately, it isn’t really as much free time as we assumed. Since our days are loaded with speakers and group meetings, we are required to journal every night. Along with that, we were assigned a book to read by the end of the week titled “The Road to the White House” by Stephen J. Wayne. Therefore, we have about 45 minutes of “free time/Dinner” before most of us are back in the books or typing our journals. I could not complain about the work at all, instead I love it. As a Political Science major this is what I live for!

As I wrote earlier, the seminar is packed with excellent speakers. The first speaker we had the privilege to hear was Dr. Dan Murrey. Dr. Murrey is the Executive Director of the Charlotte 2012 Host Committee. The host committee is a non-profit/non-partisan organization. They receive absolutely no corporate donations, therefore all of their donations are received from everyday citizens like ourselves. It was Dr. Murrey’s job to raise around $36 million for the convention this year. Along with that, he was supposed to find about 7500 volunteers to help out in Charlotte. Well, Dr. Murrey achieved that goal of donations while finding almost 16,000 people willing to volunteer. He informed us that Charlotte is more than ready for this years convention!

The next day (Today), we had another superb speaker. Her name is Meena Bose and she is the Faculty Director here at TWC. She is a Professor(?-will check on this) at Hofstra University. Meena’s topic of discussion was the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Many people wonder why conventions are important to the campaign (even some students here do). Throughout this seminar we are learning more about the importance of the conventions in today’s society. The conventions do many things for both parties. Mainly, they are intended to bring the party together and celebrate the candidate of their choice. Of course, at the Democratic National Convention we have President Obama and the Republicans have Mitt Romney. These conventions are run very carefully and are scripted for all of the speakers. Both parties must be extremely careful because their intentions are to recognize their leaders. The conventions are a way of “humanizing” politicians.

I feel that the conventions are very important because it gives the public an opportunity to take another look at each parties beliefs. Even if somebody is not extremely involved with politics, this gives them the opportunity to examine each candidate and their party. Of course, people can see news articles on TV or online sites like CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. But, the conventions are the most reliable source that anyone needs. While watching a live stream or CSPAN, one can observe an unaltered and unbiased clip of the Democratic/Republican party’s beliefs and speeches. As we know some media outlets like to switch things around. Therefore, conventions are important to re-boost campaigns and clearly express their beliefs.

As you can tell I really am enjoying this experience so far. I am delighted to have such a wonderful opportunity such as this seminar. I would like to thank Polly Mathys, because without her, I may never have found out about this entire program. Additionally I would like to thank Sharon Blair for her assistance with the event and providing information as time went on. Lastly, I would love to thank Alvernia University’s staff for not only selecting me to attend this event, but also for providing me with a wonderful education that has prepared me for this amazing experience. My freshman year has molded me into a well rounded citizen, and for that I thank all of my previous professors and others that have helped me to where I am today.

Until next time,

Brandon Jay Harry

Did you know?

A National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America's Promise study found that participating employers and recent college graduates agreed on the necessity of out of the classroom experiences. The study emphasizes the importance of providing students with important knowledge and skills but also experience putting that knowledge and skills to practical use in "real-world" settings.

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Seventy-six percent of participating employers put "teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings" at the top of their list of desired capabilities in new employees, according to a National Leadership Council for Liberal Education and America's Promise study. These are among the skills fostered by real-world learning experiences.

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Service learning is a method of providing personal and academic development through work with established nonprofit organizations in the community. It is an avenue to introduce students to a professional environment without the extensive commitments of an internship.

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Service learning provides ideal real world learning opportunities. According to SmartBlog on Leadership, doing volunteer and service work for a non-profit organization that is connected to your major or academic program of study helps develop leadership skills, expands your perspective of the world, allows you to discover new skills in a safe environment, and develops a larger network of real world contacts to draw upon once you graduate.

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Service learning can take you outside of your comfort zone, giving you an opportunity to work with new challenges, people, politics and interpersonal dynamics. It also offers new perspective on priorities. Hanging out with people who have had different life experiences encourages you to tackle challenges from different angles. Julie Zolfo, founder of Make Success Matter said that she volunteered for six weeks at the schools in New Delhi, India.

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"Alvernia's Career Development Center works with students to find avenues for employment, internships, co-ops, career exploration, resume development, and graduate school options. Center staff help students assess their options and identify their own "brand" to complement their life after Alvernia.

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A recent career fair at Alvernia attracted more than 55 employers who were seeking to hire employees, co-ops and interns for their organizations. Career fairs like this one are fertile ground for students seeking real world learning opportunities and to reap the benefits of such as employers look to to hire staff members who have honed their skills and abilities via practical experiences in real situations.

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Since its inception, Alvernia has offered real world opportunities with an emphasis on service and careers that help those in need. Field experiences in areas like criminal justice, social work, nursing, occupational therapy, health care science and teacher training among others provide our students with rich learning opportunities to test drive what it's like to work in that profession.

Did you know?

In a recent American Association of Colleges and Universities survey of 302 employers, 79 percent said institutions of higher learning should emphasize helping students apply what they learn in real-world settings, and 66 percent said that completing an internship or community field project would help prepare students for success.