Witnessing History

DENVER – Last week some of GW’s own had a front-row seat to history at the Democratic National Convention.

While students in Foggy Bottom sat glued to their televisions, a number of GW Democrats spent a week in the Mile High City listening to speakers, participating in workshops and supporting Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

“I cried through (Obama’s) entire speech,” said Cory Struble, a senior and president of the GW College Democrats. “They played the video and so much of what he said struck me on an emotional level. Hearing his speech and the passion and authenticity with which he spoke was overwhelming.”

Struble, who also attended the College Democrats of America National Convention in Denver, was able to hear Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) speech on Wednesday and watch Obama accept the nomination on Thursday.

Although he previously supported Clinton, Struble said the convention solidified his support for Obama, energizing him before he and other GW Democrats embark on an eight-week campaign push.

Junior Fae Jencks, president of GW Students for Barack Obama, said the most memorable part of attending the convention was the official nomination of Obama on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was really exciting to be able to watch the vote take place and to see the party unity,” Jencks said.

She said her interest in Obama began about four years ago.

“I was very inspired by Obama’s 2004 convention speech,” she said. “After I watched it, I knew that one day he would run for president. Little did I know that he would run so soon after.”

Jencks helped found the GW Students for Barack Obama soon after Obama declared his candidacy and began to work closely with national campaign leaders.

The group has since traveled to South Carolina and Delaware to volunteer and phone bank. In the fall, the organization will lead a voter registration drive but will concentrate most of their efforts in Virginia.

Junior David Bergstein, who served as associate director of Studio ’08, a media operation broadcasting from the site of the convention, echoed many of Struble and Jencks’ sentiments.

“Hearing Barack Obama speak at Invesco Field was the highlight of the convention for me,” he said. “At 8 o’clock when Sen. Obama started speaking, I looked around and saw 80,000 people all listening to his message of change and hope. It was incredibly moving.”

Struble, of the GW Democrats, said he plans to spend the next eight weekends in Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire campaigning with 500 to 600 GW students. He will take the tools he learned in Denver as he goes door-to-door across the country.

“We’ve spent all summer getting ready to leave GW’s political footprint in this historic race,” he said. “Our mission is to make sure everyone knows how easy it is to collect votes.”

The son of a single mother and nurse said he hopes his personal story and passion will speak to voters as students become energized on campus.

“I learned that people don’t lack the will (to campaign) at GW,” he said. “But people will act if you give them a chance, if they know about it and have the opportunity.”

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