Historic campaign posters lined the walls of the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom Tuesday as the College Republicans kicked off their new year with speeches from organization leaders and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla.
More than 300 students attended the event that served as an introduction to the organization and a chance to hear Stearns, a GW alumnus, and Charlie Smith, national chairman of the CRs, discuss political participation and public service.
Stearns, who graduated from GW in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, recalled how the University prepared him for life after college.
“GW gave the confidence that I could do a lot of things,” said Sterns, who is serving his 10th term in Congress. “And I think the students here should realize if you get a degree in political science or engineering, it doesn’t prevent you from doing other career paths.”
The congressman said his rigorous coursework at GW left him with a great sense of accomplishment.
“If I could get through GW, I could get through anything,” he said.
An engineering student with little interest in politics, Stearns was elected as the Student Association senator for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences when he was a senior. He encouraged the students at the event to run for office.
“If you have only an interest in running, you should do it, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Stearns said.
Smith, who leads an organization of 250,000 CRs across the country, also encouraged political participation and emphasized the importance of the youth vote.
“You all in this room represent the truth,” Smith said, adding that it is crucial for students to campaign door-to-door and attend rallies to show their support.
Senior Brand Kroeger, chairman of the GW CRs and the D.C. Federation of CRs, encouraged the attendees to participate in this year’s historic presidential election.
“This is the beginning of a pretty spectacular year,” Kroeger said. “We’re going to Virginia and Pennsylvania and anywhere the (Republican National Committee) or McCain campaign wants to send us.”
Several students said the speakers energized them for the fall.
“I’m really excited for a new year,” sophomore Emily Adams said. “It’s such a crucial year and there was a lot of energy. What we lack in numbers we make up for in energy.”