LRU News

LR Students Volunteer at the Democratic National Convention: A Mini-Seminar of Service and Learning

Mon Oct 1 2012

Marcus Slade (L) and  Darius Knott (R) pictured with Ed Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania and also General Chairman of the DNC 2000 presidential election

Hickory, N.C. – While millions around the nation watched the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on television or on the internet, two sophomores from Lenoir-Rhyne University participated in the events live and in person.  Marcus Slade of Caswell County, NC and Darius Knott of Mooresville, NC both answered the call to volunteer at the convention, which was held in Charlotte earlier this month. For them it was an experience that they will not soon forget.

Their journey to volunteer began back in May when Slade, a political science and economics major, received an announcement requesting volunteers for the Convention.  “I was really excited when I got the announcement, “ says Slade.   “I knew this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to attend a politicalparty convention in my home state.”  Rather than attend solo, Slade recruited his friend and fellow classmate Darius Knott who is a computer science major and self-described “political junkie.”  Knott, jumped at the chance to be involved in history adding that “to see the political process in action in real life was a very special opportunity.”

During the three-day convention, over 10,000 volunteers from every state converged upon Charlotte.  The duties assigned to volunteers were as varied and numerous as the people themselves.  In May of 20212, Slade and Knott registered and completed an application listing their experience and interests and were accepted as volunteers.  Based on their applications, volunteers were then assigned by the Host Committee of the DNC for positions in administration, hospitality, transportation, and logistics.

“We were assigned to the hospitality section and on the Sunday before the convention began, we attended a day long training session,” explained Slade.  “It was exciting to see people from all over the country and learn about what we would be doing each day.”   On day one of the convention Slade and Knott were assigned to the “Disability Team.”  “Our job on Monday was to help those who needed extra assistance either by wheelchair or other means to get from the convention center to the floor of the convention,” said Knott.

In addition to the service they performed to their fellow citizens, both Slade and Knott remarked at how much they received in return.  “I was able to learn so much in terms of logistics, planning, and organization for a major political party convention, “ says Slade.  I was overwhelmed at how much planning went into the operation of this event and could not have learned that in the classroom.”

As a political science major, Slade relates his experience to a mini-seminar in modern political science.  “I learned just how important delegates were, not only in their own state’s caucus, but also in theconvention process as a whole.”  Knott agreed with this assessment adding that, “meeting people such as Karl Rove, Robert Gibbs, Cokie Roberts, Ed Rendell and others added to the ambience and made it all real as compared to watching on TV.”

Both students commuted daily from Knott’s home in Mooresville, NC and each day got a new assignment in the Hospitality Team.  On day two of the convention, both Slade and Knott worked the main door of the convention center as greeters and checked ID’s and credentials of the attendees.  Day three was a much-anticipated day for both students.  They learned that they would be detailed at the Bank of America Stadium for President Obama’s acceptance speech.  “Unfortunately the weather prevented that from happening and we worked on the Hospitality Team in the convention center that night while he was giving his speech, but it was allworth it and I would not trade the experience for anything” said Slade.

Both students are very proud that they volunteered to work at the convention and participated in the political process.  “This was a valuable educational opportunity for both of us and shows you can learn through volunteering and also out of the classroom, “ says Slade.  This experience will stay with them as theyrise up in their careers.  After graduation, Slade plans to get his Master’s in Public Policy and his Juris Doctorate while staying active in the political process. Knott plans to continue his study of computer science and work on logistics and developing websites.  Perhaps we will see them in a different role at a future convention?

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© 2012 Lenoir-Rhyne University