From History`s Front Row: One Student`s Diary of the Presidential Election

Alejandra Lopez

Alejandra Lopez

Alejandra Lopez


Alejandra Lopez

Alejandra Lopez, a junior majoring in political science who is a part of both the Dyson College of Arts and Science and Pforzheimer Honors College, received two Pace scholarships to participate in the Washington Center Programs, which were a combination of seminar and internship work at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, and at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.

These are her reflections on her experiences…

By Alejandra Lopez

I applied for the scholarships because I am very interested in presidential politics, especially in the 2007-2008 presidential campaign. I could not give up the opportunity to be a part of the most exciting historical moments in current U.S. politics. I was the only student at Pace who experienced back-to-back the two presidential national conventions of our bipartisan government, and then in January stood amongst thousands of people steps from the west front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C. to listen to president-elect Barack Obama make his inaugural speech.

At the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which took place in the great city of Denver, Colorado, I worked with Talk Radio News Service reporting on interesting events that occurred in and out of the convention halls. I covered protests, conferences, speeches, morning and evening events, including daily events at the Pepsi Center, the Colorado Convention Center, and at INVESCO Field. I enjoyed interviewing delegates, students, visitors, professors, and reporters, as well as writing and uploading articles and videos online.

Two weeks later, I took a plane to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Republican National Convention (RNC), which took place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and heard among other speakers, Sarah Palin and John McCain. Flying out to the RNC was amazing because I was able to compare how Democrats and Republicans celebrate and converse about their chosen presidential candidates through a personal lens. I worked with C-SPAN, which covers national politics, and news that occurs on Capital Hill and the White House. Thanks to C-SPAN and Professor Steve Scully, I was on the floor of the convention for the entire week.

To witness the two party’s national conventions was one of the best experiences of my life. Never would I have imagined myself working and learning with other students through media outlets having front row access to Obama’s and McCain’s acceptance speeches!

However, as a person who voted for Barack Obama and followed his campaign throughout the year, I was ecstatic to go to D.C. days before his inauguration and watch the city transform with people from across the country and around the world. The streets displayed welcome signs for the presidential family, fliers about inaugural events, and street vendors selling from T-shirts, pins, and American flags in support of president-elect Obama to hats, blankets, and scarves for the awaited freezing temperatures that people would endure the night before and day of the inauguration. Attending Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing, meeting Congress members, reporters, old friends, new friends, professors, and students, blogging for Pace, and receiving inauguration tickets, I could not have asked for a better opportunity to study American politics and network in D.C for Obama’s presidential inauguration.

I thank Pace University, the Washington Center, Dr. Malone, and all my classmates that allowed these academic trips to become life long memorable events that I will always cherish. The presidential campaign and inauguration is a journey that involves all people, and as such, I encourage students, especially those interested in politics, to study and engage in politics because history is always in the making.