With little sleep and a lot of hard work, 13 Blinn College students proved they have what it takes to succeed in politics.
Olivia Alvarado (Anchorage, Alaska), Jackie Armstrong (Yorktown, Va.), Theron Brown (Midland), Sal Fernandez (Del Rio), Kylie Fruge (Houston), Amber Garza (McAllen), Michael Koeth (Terrell), Tyler Logan (Austin), Marissa Nunez (Pearland), Jacob Smiley (Liberty Hill), Angela Triola (Cypress), John Utsman (Midland), and Tori Zander (Clifton) recently competed in the 2017 New Politics Forum Campaign Bootcamp in Austin, a three-day, nonpartisan training that introduces young people to political campaigning.
Established in 2003 at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University for Texas at Austin, the New Politics Forum engages young adults in the political process and inspires them to take leadership roles in their communities.
As the only two year college representatives at the workshop, Blinn students were randomly grouped with students from more than 10 four-year universities. Each group was assigned a political candidate and guided by political professionals on the basics of campaign management, communication, fundraising, budgeting, and volunteer coordination. By the third day of the forum, each group was expected to make a complete campaign presentation before a bipartisan panel of political mentors.
“The overall goal of the workshop is to let students experience all the moving parts of the campaign,” says Social Sciences Professor Gilbert Schorlemmer. “Students get fully immersed in the political process. It teaches students that campaigning can be for any type of individual – you just have to find where you work best.”
The students were inspired to participate in the annual workshop while enrolled in Schorlemmer’s government classes, which involve semester long campaign projects similar to the Campaign Bootcamp.
Awards were presented at the conclusion of the workshop to the group with the best campaign presentation, communication strategy, budget procedure, and financing plan. Smiley, a second year Blinn student, was part of the team that earned the award for the best overall campaign pitch.
“The boot camp really simulated the campaign work environment: high-pressure and ever-changing,” says Smiley. “I had never before interacted with so many people who differed from me, ideologically, but we learned to work together to produce quality results.”
More than 15 mentors and trainers employed with various political nonprofit organizations, consulting firms, and state and federal agencies were on-hand to provide personal perspective into the political process. Students were encouraged to network with the experts.
Triola, a Blinn alumna who recently transferred to Texas A&M University, secured an internship with a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., as a result of a connection made during last year’s workshop. At the conclusion of the internship, Triola was offered a full-time position with the firm, which she turned down to return to school.
“I definitely plan on returning to Washington, D.C., after finishing school to see if the job is still on the table,” says Triola. “This is my dream career, and I would never have received the offer if Mr. Schorlemmer had not made me aware and prepared me for this opportunity.”
Registration is open for Blinn’s Summer II and Fall semesters. For enrollment information and to learn about financial aid opportunities, visit www.blinn.edu.
With an enrollment of 19,422 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence. For more information, visit www.blinn.edu.