SPC student Jane Cerulli found herself in the heart of the Republican National Convention this week, surrounded by the media and politicos from Josh Romney to Chelsea Clinton.
Now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Administration, Cerulli, 28, said she couldn’t have been more excited by the experience.
“In the public policy program, one of the things we are taught is our experiences can be one of our greatest assets. We have to know them and understand them,” she explained why she enjoyed the opportunity to see the political process firsthand.
Jeff Kronschnabl, the instructor-in-charge of Public Policy Adminsitration program, recommended Cerulli for a daylong session of forums that were part of the RNC.
Wednesday morning Cerulli was attending a seminar, opened to area college students by The Washington Center. Participants were able to hear from a variety of people involved in American government. That afternoon she was at another forum called Conversations with the Next Generation hosted by Microsoft, the National Journal and The Atlantic. The audience discussed issues such as college students’ involvement in politics with members of the media including employees from MSNBC and MTV.
Cerulli said she left with a better understanding of the nation’s election process, issues that have been raised in the upcoming presidential election and the candidates’ stance on those topics.
“When it comes to voting and the battle that goes on between the candidates, you kind of get overwhelmed and you start to get confused on the subjects they’re discussing,” she said. “It was nice to get a basic level description of what they are planning to do instead of a commercial.”
Cerulli, who already has a bachelor’s degree in International Business from SPC and is a former president of the Tarpon Springs Campus Student Government Association, thanked the college for all the opportunities she’s had as a student. “I don’t speak to a lot of students from other schools who are sponsored by their school as much,” she said.
The first seminar Cerulli attended allowed participants to hear from those involved in government, from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to former U.S. Secretary of Veteran Affairs Jim Nicholson to a lobbyist for the Ford Motor Company.
At the second event, Cerulli and others heard from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s son Josh Romney and participated in discussion over the lack of involvement among younger adults in the election process. Matthew Segal, co-founder and president of Our Time, a nationwide non-profit network of young Americans promoting economic and voter empowerment, said during the forum he believed there was a disconnect between the election process and how younger adults communicate using technology, Cerulli said. Another issue raised during the forum was the lack of educational emphasis on the importance of voting.
Cerulli said a highlight of the second seminar was the amount of participation between the speakers, moderators and crowd. At one point, that level of interaction put her, literally, next to high profile political and media personalities. Chelsea Clinton, who is a special correspondent for NBC News, sat next to her when Clinton was off camera. And she got her picture taken with Josh Romney.
“They’re right there in front of me,” Cerulli said about the big names who were at the seminar. “I could reach out and touch them.”
If she could, Cerulli said she would also like to see the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in person.
“Having the opportunity to experience this was a blessing,” she said. She encouraged others to get out and experience the political process where they can. “If I didn’t have a class obligation or if it was easy to do, I would go to Charlotte.”
See more photos from Cerulli on the college’s Facebook page.