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Western Illinois University administrators attend Democratic, Republican Conventions
October 30, 2012
MACOMB, IL – Two Western Illinois University administrators took time out of their schedules recently to play an active role at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Associate Director of Alumni Programs Amanda Shoemaker attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, in late August and Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center Director Belinda Carr attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, in early September.
Shoemaker went to the convention after being contacted by a sorority sister from Illinois College who was working in Florida as a Republican staff member. After an e-mail from the friend, Shoemaker applied to be a professional volunteer, completing an application and sending in a resume.
"I was so excited to be selected to serve as a professional volunteer. In my position, I directed foot traffic to respective suites on the fifth level of The Forum, such as Speaker of the House John Boehner's suite and The Governors' Lounge – there were more than 30 suites and VIP areas," Shoemaker said. "Tuesday was very long because Monday's schedule was scrapped due to Hurricane Isaac. We reported for duty at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and wrapped up at 11 p.m. after the keynote speech. Every other day was 4-11 p.m., and we were on our feet the entire time, directing the VIPs and checking credentials. Luckily, we all took turns and were able to watch the keynote speeches from inside the arena every night."
During her time in Tampa, Shoemaker said she met several interesting people, including former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
"It was also good seeing my congressman, Aaron Schock, and I had the opportunity to watch a Fox News interview with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan one day," she said. "Of course, the highlight of the week was hearing Mitt Romney give his speech Thursday night. The energy in The Forum was absolutely amazing; you just left the convention feeling really energized and excited for November."
Shoemaker said she believes voting and being educated about the candidates is important for every American.
"Every election, whether it's for president or congressman or governor or mayor or city council, affects us," she said. "That's why it's important to research the candidates, understand their stances/policies and determine which candidate will best represent you and your beliefs."
Carr, who was a delegate for the September Democratic National Convention, said she was contacted mid-summer by telephone by someone asking if she wanted to serve.
"At first, I thought someone was playing a joke on me," she said. "After I determined it was not a practical joke, I was directed to fill out an application."
Carr said the Illinois delegation met for breakfast each morning and then gathered for a delegate meeting.
"I was like a sponge, soaking up every nuance of the convention," she said "After our morning delegation meeting, we were able to attend various caucus meetings. I attended the Women's and African American Caucus meeting, where Michelle Obama was one of the keynote speakers."
During her convention experience, Carr said she was impressed with how "no one was a stranger."
"I met neat, high energy people from all over the United States," she said. "And the security was amazing; I have never seen that many officers in my life. There were at least 12 officers for every block. The police presence was maintained at this level 24 hours a day during the convention."
Carr said that while she wasn't able to meet the president during the convention, she did have breakfast with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. She added that it is important for all Americans to be involved in the political process "to ensure we maintain the freedoms we have."