Jazmin Perez is a senior at SHSU majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Political Science. Earlier this year, she attended a LEAP Center event featuring political consultant Nancy Bocskor, who has worked for more than 100 congressional candidates and members, raising more than sixty million dollars. She also teaches at George Washington University and does various workshops and training for groups across the country. More recently, Bocsckor has done consulting for the State Department, traveling to more than 20 developing countries to help women become more engaged with the political system.
Wisely, Perez reached out to Bocskor following their meeting and asked to be a part of Bocskor’s life for part of this summer. Such a step was not a natural one for Perez. She had never flown before, never been to DC, and was new to the world of political consultants. As Bocskor’s “right-hand woman” that is changing…
Wednesday, July 29th
By Jazmin Perez
My adventure began here. Flight 6262 to Washington, D.C. was scheduled to depart at 2:50 pm. On this day, I woke up early to prepare for the trip. In several hours I would be flying to Washington, D.C. for a month long internship with Nancy Bocskor. Although, this was my first time on a plane, I was not nervous. Upon entering the airport I checked in my luggage and proceeded to wait calmly with my family until it was closer to boarding time. As boarding time approached, I said my goodbyes and headed toward the TSA lines, then to gate twenty –two. Much to my surprise, I was still very calm. A short amount of time elapsed before we were able to board. When we did I choose a window seat. I was still very calm. Strange really. After everyone was seated and the safety procedures were addressed, we were finally ready for take-off. Flight 6262 began to head for the runway. I was not nervous. Then very suddenly, when the engine began roaring and flight 6262 actually took off, that was when I began to smile, a smile that very quickly became a giggle and then emerged to uncontrollable but, luckily, no snorting (editor: a minor miracle).
I was now incredibly nervous and afraid I would not be able to make it through the three-hour flight ahead of me. Once the plane stopped roaring and we were actually flying, my nerves settled and I introduced myself to the man sitting beside me. We conversed for a bit mostly about the fact I was a first time flier which put me at ease. I was even brave enough to open up the window cover. The view was extraordinary, and the view and my building excitement carried me all the way to the nation’s capital!
It was here that I met Ademide Adedokun, an SHSU Alumni and former President of the Junior Fellows (forerunner to LEAP), who has generously opened her home to me. After settling into her apartment we headed to a nearby diner for dinner, and ended the day with a quick tour of the city. I was able to get a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial, the Air Force Memorial and the Washington Monument.
It was a great ending to an eventful day.
Thursday, July 30th
My first day started bright and early as I prepared to head to George Washington University via public transportation. I walked to the bus stop where I would get on a bus heading for Pentagon City.Getting on the bus was an adventure all on its own as to be expected of this girl. Unfortunately, I failed to have my SmartTrip card out to scan as I hopped on the bus, so I searched frantically for it in my wallet but not without other cards flying out onto the floor of the bus. (My SmartTrip card now lives in an easier to access pocket of my purse preventing a similar situation from occurring. Lesson learned.) I managed to pick it all up, scan my card, and take a seat. Anxiously awaiting my stop, I asked a sweet woman sitting beside me where I would get off to go to the Pentagon City metro, and proceeded to do so after she informed me. The Pentagon City Metro was a new challenge to overcome.
Luckily the people that I encountered throughout my first day in DC on public transportation were all very helpful, and the reason I made it to George Washington University, a beautiful campus, without getting lost. This is a different world than the compact and easily traversed campus of SHSU.
There, I had the pleasure of attending an event hosted by the Global Gender Program with the unwieldy title of “Empowering Women through Political Participation and Empowering Politics through Women’s Participation.”
Barbara Miller, one of the directors of the Global Gender Program, welcomed the audience and presented the keynote speaker, Homa Hoodfar, a professor of Anthropology at Concordia University in Canada. Dr. Hoodfar proceeded to open the floor and lay the foundation of topics on which the panelists would later expand. In her presentation, she mentioned that it would take 500 years to reach gender parity in America if we continued at this rate.
Following her presentation, there were three panels of presenters from several different countries including Ireland, Pakistan, England and the U.S. Each briefly discussed their research on women in politics around the world.
Among my favorite presenters of the day were Rosalyn Cooperman, Theresa Reidy, Mona Tajali, and Susan Markham.
Rosalyn Cooperman, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, centered her presentation on women in politics in America and mentioned that, “The problem is not a supply of women, but a demand.” Theresa Reidy spoke of political parties acting as gate keepers, and emphasized that the problem is structural. Dr. Reidy is a professor at University College Cork in Ireland. Mona Tajali, a professor at Oxford University, spoke about the recent general elections held in Turkey, feminist political ideology, and parity at all levels.
Susan Markham, the senior gender advisor of the United States Agency for International Development, closed the event by stating that often times we forget to look at the whole picture. She also described running for office as a third shift for a woman with a family and a career.
After the event, we were invited to mingle and enjoy an array of subs, pasta, and drinks.
Finally it was time to head out, but not before getting stuck in the rain with no umbrella and having to walk several blocks to hop on the metro towards Nancy’s house. When I finally arrived and met her, we discussed the conference and she took me on a quick tour of her neighborhood.
Later that evening we met Nancy’s summer interns for a farewell dinner at Thai Noy. Thai food was another new experience for me, so I ordered one of the first items on the menu, Pad Thai with shrimp, an interesting dining experience capped off by interesting conversations and wonderful people. For dessert we shared sticky rice with mango and homemade coconut ice cream, both of which were rather enjoyable.
It was a day filled with new experiences! Despite being directionally challenge, I managed to not get lost taking public transportation, and I was welcomed to a new world! Thank you Professor Yawn, Nancy Bocskor, Ademide Adedokun, and Chuck Jones for making this possible!
Stay tuned for more adventures!