It has now been a year since I left for Cleveland, OH to attend The Washington Center’s 2016 RNC program. I was one of the two students sent by my school’s Political Science Department to represent Saint Joseph’s University. I had no idea what to expect – I had never been to a political convention. I was just excited that the school paid for my flight and the program costs, it felt very official. Admittedly, I was really nervous because multiple people had warned me prior to my takeoff on how violent this particular convention had the potential to get.
It was truly an unconventional convention with the nomination going to Donald J. Trump, someone who had never held public office prior. The energy was interesting, I had been living in Philadelphia so I was not used to all this Republican pride being displayed so loud and proud. I had never seen anything quite like this before.
I was placed with Talk Media News which meant I had access to Media Row. In Media Row, I was surrounded by a lot of heroes. Carl Bernstein (who I got to talk to), Peter Hamby host of the Snapchat’s “Good Luck America”, Anderson Cooper (unfortunately no relation) were all working several feet away from where TMN’s work space was. Even though I was very busy with various assignments I tried to take in the atmosphere of being surrounded by so many renowned journalists in such a historic election.
Aside from the inspiring media influencers I worked amongst, I had daily access into the actual convention hall where all the action was. This is where all of that Republican pride was swarming. My first day in the arena, after fan-girling over the photo I got with Dana Bash, I was overwhelmed with what I was seeing. All of the delegates representing the various states were on the floor you could barely hear yourself think amongst all of the ruckus. Surrounding the floor were the media outlets covering the speeches, and above those were guests of those that had access to invite their friends and family.
Thankfully the convention was not violent in the way that I had been forewarned about before taking off to Cleveland. Republican or not, the entire experience was something anyone present was lucky to have. I got to see first hand how rhetoric moves people in so such different ways through the speeches, the protests and the MANY different forms of coverage. I met a lot of amazing people with big ambitions, and it allowed me to reflect on who I wanted to become and where I wanted to go. That was the week I realized I needed to move to Washington, D.C. after school and here I am! So I feel that I owe a lot to my school for choosing me to be apart of the TWC program, and to the spirit of the convention itself for helping me mold my future path.
I certainly did not anticipate Trump actually winning the election, but it is an amazing thing to look back and know I that have a better understanding of Trump’s support system, the GOP, and how elections can be really unpredictable.
Overall I can’t imagine not being at the future presidential conventions, and am anxiously awaiting 2020, hoping the next one I attend is in Hawaii.