Six Clarion University students and a recent graduate will have the experience of a lifetime during the next few weeks when they complete academic seminars and fieldwork at the National Political Conventions of the Democratic and Republican Parties.
Current students Chelsea Kaufman, Mary Loveless, Julie Nene, Cybil Swab, and Roger Yetzer along with recent Clarion University graduate Zachary Hause will be attending the Democratic National Convention seminar, August 15-29, in Denver, Colo. Joseph Ferguson will be attending the Republican National Convention seminar, August 22-September-5, in Minneapolis, Minn. All of the participants will arrive a week early for a series of lectures, seminars, and site visits before completing fieldwork with media, political, and advocacy groups during the week of the convention.
All of them will be earning college credit by completing the course Political Science 350: The National Political Convention Experience, created by Dr. Kevan Yenerall, professor of political science at Clarion University. Their attendance at the conventions is sponsored by the independent, non-profit Washington Center for Internship and Academic Seminars (www.twc.edu), which conducts the seminar. The Washington Center began the National Conventions program in 1984.
“This is truly an ‘experiential’ education course, in every sense of the word” said Yenerall. “It is learning in ‘real time’ – with the majesty and mayhem of the convention, presidential campaign, salient policy issues, and media circus, unfolding all around them. Beyond that, the 2008 presidential election is historic in a number of ways, beginning with the fact that this is the first presidential election in 56 years where there will not be a sitting president or vice president on the ballot.”
The students will arrive at the convention site a week early. They will attend seminars and lectures conducted by members of the national media, political scientists, and politicians, learning about the history, relevance, and mechanics of the national conventions, the parties’ platforms, and the dynamics influencing the American electorate and the presidential campaign. They will also complete assigned reading and writing assignments assigned by Yenerall, who will be responsible for all of the students attending the Democratic Convention from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
Among the State System institutions, Clarion will have the most students attending the Democratic convention seminar. “This is a testament to the strength of Clarion University’s program, and the support from the Washington Center, my department, the Honors Program, and especially, Clarion University administration,” said Yenerall. “I am so grateful for their cooperation and understanding. Working together, we have provided this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our students.”
During the week of the convention each of the students will be completing fieldwork at or around the convention site. So far, individual interests and emerging opportunities have matched them with media outlets such as Tavis Smiley Productions, news/talk radio outlets, and state party delegations and organizations, among other groups.
“My hope is our students will come back even more energized and involved in the political process, and be able to share their experiences on campus,” said Yenerall, who first took a Clarion student to a convention through the Washington Center program in 2004. “Hopefully, we will have even more students complete this seminar in four years.”
Every presidential election year since 1984, The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars has offered two exceptional seminars in connection with the Democratic and Republican National conventions. Traditionally endorsed by each national party chair, these seminars have been the only national academic programs of such scope, visibility and size in which the political process at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions are studied.
The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent, nonprofit organization serving hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C. for academic credit. The largest such program, with more than 60 full-time staff, The Washington Center has over 36,000 alumni, leaders in numerous professions and nations around the world.
Chelsea Kaufman, a sophomore political science major, is a daughter of Scott Martin and Kristine Kaufman-Martin of Strattanville and is a graduate of Clarion-Limestone High School.
Mary Loveless, a junior political science major, is a daughter of Cynthia Hasenzahl of Shiloh, Ohio, and Steve Loveless of Shelby, Ohio, and is a graduate of Shelby High School.
Julie Nene, a junior mass media arts, journalism, and communication studies major, is a daughter of Karen Sheppard of Erie and is a graduate of Ft. LeBoeuf High School.
Cybil Swab, a senior elementary education/special education major, is a daughter of Tom and Linda Swab of Brookville and is a graduate of Brookville High School.
Roger Yetzer, a senior political science major, is a son of Debbie Yetzer of St. Marys and is a graduate of St. Marys High School.
Zachary Hause, who received a B.A. degree in Spanish in December from Clarion University, is son of Von and Sandra Hause of Emporium and is a graduate of Cameron County High School.
Joseph Ferguson, a sophomore political science major, is a son of Gerald Ferguson of Conneaut Lake and is a graduate of Meadville High School.