Politics in Action

September 14, 2012

Keri Thompson '05 was a voting delegate from Massachusetts during the Democratic National Convention in August.   Pictured on the convention floor are Jill Biden (left) and Keri Thompson (right).

By Frank Radosevich II

Bradley students and alums are experiencing the democratic process in action this year as they participate in presidential politics on both sides of the political aisle.

Everywhere from here on the Hilltop to the national conventions, students are making a difference in the public realm and carrying out the University's mission of experiential learning.

Keri Thompson '05 attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., as a delegate from Massachusetts and voted in the party's nomination process. Thompson credited her speech communication courses, where she studied public policy along side public speaking, with igniting her political aspirations. It also didn't hurt that she met President Obama, then a U.S. Senate candidate, at the Garrett Cultural Center during a campaign stop.

Now involved with national politics, Thompson echoed the importance of voting and students being active in the political realm.

"Regardless of whom you support it's really important to vote and to make your voice heard," she said.

Political science major Robert Klaus is volunteering this fall with U.S. President Barrack Obama's re-election campaign on campus. Klaus, a junior from Chicago, serves as a campus team leader and helps organize students to man a telephone bank to promote the president.

Growing up in Chicago, Klaus said he was surrounding by politics but his interest in the field truly grew during the 2008 presidential campaign. He added that he hopes to see more student participation in political activism and voting regardless of their political beliefs.

"It's more important to get involved than to follow what I or someone else believes," he said. "I can understand some people don't want to volunteer but it's definitely important to register to vote.

"We want to make the impression that being involved at Bradley entails being involved with the world around you," he said.

Farther away from campus, senior Mary Kanowsky from Peoria worked at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., as one of 96 pages staffing the gathering. She assisted in passing out literature to attendees voting on the party's platform and had the chance to roam the floor among the delegates and politicians.

"It was a great experience. We saw a lot of famous people; reporters and political figures," she said. Kanowsky even ran into U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock '02 who represents the 18th congressional district in Illinois. "Politics is really interesting and it is something that impacts all of us."

As a psychology major and political science minor, Kanowsky said the experience added a real-world dimension to her classroom studies. Before attending the convention, Kanowsky interned with Demetra DeMonte, national committeewoman for the Illinois Republican Party and secretary of the Republican National Committee. Thanks to the two experiences she was able to compare and contrast the political movement at the local and national levels.

Both Klaus and Kanowsky received more than work experience from their political involvement. The students also earned academic credit through the Department of Political Science for applying their knowledge on the campaign trail.

"It is important that experiential learning opportunities in actual political campaigns be available to Bradley students," said Dr. Craig Curtis, associate professor for political science. "They learn lessons in the field that give them context to understand the conceptual lessons from the classroom. It also gives them connections and networking opportunities that often lead to jobs after graduation."