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Students Get Insider’s View at Political Conventions

Seminar Offers Classes, Hands-on Learning on National Stage

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Junior Corey Lanier will be attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa and doing fieldwork with CNN.

By Jill Gambon

Junior Corey Lanier studied the 2012 presidential campaign in his political science class last semester, learning about the electoral process through class discussions, research and assigned reading. This month, he’ll experience first-hand the workings of presidential politics at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Lanier will be participating in The Washington Center’s Republican National Convention seminar from August 18 to 31. The program combines one week of classes on convention-related topics and a week of hands-on fieldwork at the convention site. Lanier’s work assignment is with CNN, where he’ll help out on the cable network’s political assignment desk.

“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” says Lanier, who has a dual major in criminal justice and political science. “I hope to learn how conventions really work, what happens behind-the-scenes.”

The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent, nonprofit organization that offers students opportunities to learn and work in government, policy, media and other organizations for academic credit. Over the years, dozens of UMass Lowell students have participated in its programs.
The three-credit convention seminar includes formal instruction with seminar faculty, guest lectures and panel discussions with public officials and leaders in media, politics and business and volunteer fieldwork assignments at the convention center site.
Also participating in The Washington Center’s Convention Seminar is senior Analissa Iversen, who will be attending the National Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C. from August 25 to September 7. In addition to attending classes that cover everything from the history of political conventions to campaign finance, Iversen expects to be assigned to the National Women’s Political Caucus for her fieldwork at the convention.

“I’m not a political junkie. I’m hoping to get more knowledge about how politics work,” says Iversen, a sociology major who would like to work for a non-profit.  “I thought this would be a cool opportunity and I’m ready to take it on.”

“Analissa and Corey are going to meet and talk to people who are well-established in American politics. This will expose them to the national stage,” says Prof. Frank Talty, assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, who will be a faculty leader at The Washington Center’s Republican convention seminar.
Talty, who was on The Washington Center’s faculty at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, has encouraged Iversen and Lanier to make the most of their experiences.

“I told them to bring business cards and hand them out and to make a web site with videos explaining what they are interested in,” he says. “They will create a network of politically active friends from around the country.”

Lanier, who is planning on attending law school and wants to pursue a career in public policy and criminal justice, is excited about the prospect of getting a backstage peek at the inner workings of a national political event.
“You can watch a broadcast or read about it, but nothing compares to actually being there,” he says.

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