Indiana State University Newsroom

Students volunteer at Democratic National Convention

September 27, 2012

Four Indiana State University students did more than watch the Democratic National Convention. They experienced it.

"I never really paid close attention to politics; therefore, I really did not have an opinion about political conventions," said Alexus Tucker, a senior communication major from Indianapolis. "Working a convention and being around so many political scientists and students who were so interested in politics in general gave me an extreme change of heart. In order to understand politics, you must listen and read and follow what's going on or else you will stay uninterested."

Tucker and the three other students attended the convention due to ISU's Center for Community Engagement, the department of political science and the Washington Center's Academic Seminar.

"I can say with confidence that their experiences were great because it got them working with Democratic Party leaders at both the state and national level," said Matt Bergbower, assistant professor of political science. "People should also recognize that the students were not necessarily simply in the audience watching speeches every night. They could not do that because they were working, as directed by The Washington Center."

Nancy Rogers, associate vice president for community engagement and experiential learning, said The Washington Center Seminar at the convention provides student a unique opportunity for "behind the scenes" learning about political parties and how they function in the U.S.

"For students interested in a career in politics or public service, the DNC program will be one of the most impactful experiences in their academic career," she said. "This program is just one of the many ways that we are actively encouraging students to engage in the civic and political life of the local community, state and nation."

ISU's students joined more than 120 other college students from across the country for a week of classes and listening to speakers and the second week volunteering at the convention. During the first week, the students learned from convention officials, legislators and media members. They checked credentials, assisted the media and drove a band to a post-concert party.

"By being on the access control team at the arena, I got unbelievable access inside to many different things," said Mark Broeker, a senior political science major from Rockport. He worked backstage on a tour, in front of the stage where the media set up, and with the radio and print media. "It was fascinating because I was so close to listen to the speeches."

Arielle Brandy, a senior legal studies major from South Bend, worked with the StartUp RockOn concerts, which included putting grab bags together for guests, checking in the VIP guests and sponsors and driving the band The Roots to its after party. She also worked with the National Journal and The Atlantic with their events and briefings.

"The atmosphere at the convention was exciting and you could feel the energy from everyone around you, in how much they loved the Democratic Party and the president," she said. "Being surrounded by students and people from all over the world that shared the same or similar views as you was amazing and something you will never forget."

While some of the students discovered a new love of politics, for others it confirmed something they have long enjoyed.

"I was one of those kids who were watching political events and sports instead of cartoons growing up," Broeker said. "I lived in an independent house where we never disclose who we vote for in elections, but we do discuss politics."

In 2004, his mother made Broeker watch now-President Barack Obama speak at the convention because she heard people say he could be the next president. Eight years later, Broeker listened to Obama speak again as he worked the convention.

Brandy described the convention experience as an "eye opener."

"If you have an interest in politics, law, media, journalism, protesting or just have an overall interest in what goes on in our country, attending a convention is the best opportunity to experience it all," she said.

Though he worked long hours, Ayden Jent, a sophomore political science major from Indianapolis, said he has a better understanding of political life and in the future he would like to become a campaign manager.

"If I am a successful manager then I may run for office in my later years," he said. "In the years to come, I hope this won't be my last experience."

Brandy agreed, though she wants to practice law as well.

"I would love to hold a political office position someday, to be a delegate in another four years to experience the convention from another point of view," she said.

Tucker, who had not watched a convention before attending the 2012 one, found future possibilities.

"I believe this experience could possibly open a door of a potential field I can pursue through my major that I never really thought of," she said. "Since my major is public relations, my field is very broad and it includes politics. So maybe one day, I'll be working on someone's campaign or, better yet, the White House."

The students said they found the experience to be valuable from being a resume builder to horizon broadening.

"Through hard work, dedication and Indiana State University, I went to China for 18 days and was in the middle of all the action at the Democrat National Convention," Broeker said. "These were both once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, which helped me learn many different things. An individual can learn numerous things in a classroom, but actually getting a first-hand look as well as being a part of things is a much better perspective or viewpoint. I think it is invaluable for students to take the classroom on the road and learn at other places like China or the Democratic National Convention."

Photos: Broeker poses with the Indiana delegation sign at the Democratic National Convention. Courtesy Photo Brandy met San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro at the Democratic National Convention. Courtesy Photo Broeker and Ayden Jent met Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, community mayor of Harlem and founder of the New Future Foundation. Courtesy Photo of the students had the opportunity to listen to President Barack Obama speak during the convention. Courtesy photo

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, Indiana State University, associate director of media relations, at 812-237-7972 or

Story Highlights

Four students attended the Democratic National Convention through ISU's Center for Community Engagement, the department of political science and the Washington Center's Academic Seminar.

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