Logos for 2016 national political conventions

Hartwick Students to Attend National Political Conventions

July 5, 2016

Two Hartwick students will attend the Democratic and Republican National Conventions this summer as part of a program run by The Washington Center (TWC) for Internships and Academic Seminars, an independent, nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC.

Jackie Davis ’17 will attend the Republican Convention in Cleveland, OH, and Halle Mahoney ’17 will attend the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, PA, which run from July 18–21 and July 25–28, respectively.

This is the first time Hartwick students have participated in such a program.

“Attending the political party conventions will be an extraordinary experience for Jackie and Halle,” said President Margaret L. Drugovich. “What could be more meaningful than to participate in the democratic process of selecting a party candidate for president of the United States? This is the type of engaged learning that is synonymous with a Hartwick education.”

Working at the Conventions is the culmination of a two-week academic seminar held in each host city.

According to the TWC website, the program provides college and university students an inside perspective on the national political conventions and “combines formal instruction, guest lectures, panels, tours, site visits, and fieldwork assignments, to give students the opportunity to experience the convention from behind the scenes, and to witness democracy in action at both the grassroots and national levels.”

Professor of Political Science Dr. Laurel Elder is the faculty advisor and point person to TWC, and selected Davis and Mahoney as participants.

“Jackie and Halle are both excellent students and also political science majors,” she said. “They have taken many classes about American politics and elections that will provide them with the academic background to not only succeed but get the most possible out of this experience.”

Both students are passionate about politics, Elder added, and have participated in a variety of political experiences that go beyond regular coursework. Mahoney spent last summer working in a district office of her congressman, Seth Moulton (D, MA), and Davis won the 2015 Stephen L. Green ’59 H’15 PM’05 American Governance Award.

Interested students wrote a short essay about why they wanted to take part in this program, and how the experience would enhance their education, Elder said. “On top of being exceptionally strong students, Jackie and Halle wrote persuasive essays.”

Funding for the trips was provided through private donations, said Vice President for College Advancement Gregg Fort. Each seminar costs nearly $5,000 plus expenses and travel. “We were fortunate in that we had two anonymous donors who supported this opportunity for Jackie and Halle,” he said.

For Mahoney and Davis, the opportunity to attend the Conventions was months in the making.

“I first heard about this opportunity in September 2015 from Professor Elder, who asked interested students to write a statement about why we wanted to be a part of this program,” said Mahoney. “After that, I started the application process in February for The Washington Center, answering questions and submitting my resume.”

Once accepted, Mahoney then decided what kind of fieldwork she wanted to take part in during the convention program. Only recently did she finish the entire application process, which included submitting information for a background check by the Secret Service, as she will be working inside the Wells Fargo Center.

“I don’t know exactly what type of work I will be doing, but I am excited to be inside the actual Convention headquarters where a majority of the action will be taking place,” she said.

While Mahoney is unsure what exactly her workdays will bring, she hopes they will help her learn more about the election process.

“I want to get a better understanding of the process that the delegates go through to officially nominate their candidate for president,” she said. “I also want to learn about the key issues the Democratic Party brings up at the convention, and what they will use as platforms going forward in the campaign season.”

For her part, Mahoney sees herself continuing with political activism after the convention.

“I have always believed that it’s important to understand how the government works, and how the decisions that our elected officials make may impact our country and beyond,” she said. “Upon graduating from Hartwick, I would like to further my education in political science and earn a master’s degree. I hope to work on campaigns, on an elected official’s staff, and maybe one day as an elected official myself.”

Mahoney and Davis will be sharing photos and anecdotes about their experiences for the College’s social media.

For more information on TWC’s Convention academic seminars, visit its website.