Most students enjoy sleeping in on Saturday mornings, but the LEAP students were more than willing to spend their Saturday morning learning about campaigns. It was an interesting educational experience, combining hands-on learning with exposure to campaign volunteers, staff, and even a US Congressman, all willing to share their knowledge.
One of the staples of campaign life is to feed your volunteers, and Congressman Kevin Brady did so enthusiastically. In fact, we kicked the morning off at The Black Walnut Cafe where we enjoyed coffee, kolaches, breakfast tacos and mingling. Congressman Brady, who joined us in the walk, offered a pep talk; Francine Stanfield, his campaign director, made sure we were comfortable; and Kory Curtis, an analyst for Brady’s campaign, showed us the ropes.
With a map, a clip board and a lot of enthusiasm, the block-walking teams set off to their assigned neighborhoods. It was a great experience, especially for a group of Political Science majors.
The initial results were encouraging, with many opening doors, welcoming us, and thanking us for information about Congressman Brady. This helped us build confidence.
The experience also taught us the importance of the communication process between voters and elected representatives. Block walking, town forums, and district presence are all an important part of learning about the concerns of voters–directly from the voters.
In canvassing the other student volunteers (who had gone in tandem in different directions), they had a similar response. Some of the introverts indicated they wouldn’t want to do this every week, but the extroverts were energized by the process. All of us learned a lot, from the voters, from Congressman Brady, and from the campaign staff. It was particularly educational for one of our high-school volunteers, Ryan Brim, who is an introvert but is exploring career options and community engagement.
Beatriz Martinez, who block-walked last week as well, enjoyed spending additional time with Congressman Brady.
She had actually never met a US Congressman. Megan also enjoyed spending time with Congressman Brady, and this is probably her fourth or fifth time at one of his events.
Kaitlyn Tyra, an Accounting Major, enjoyed learning more about campaigns from the staff. I enjoyed these things, too, but also enjoyed seeing how campaigns play out on the ground.
We all also appreciated the lunch provided. Walking builds an appetite, and we were able to relax again for lunch at the Black Walnut, where we enjoyed burgers and other comfort foods, as well as the closing remarks from Congressman Brady expressing his appreciation.
One of the great things about being a POLS major or, more generally, a student is SHSU, is that our learning takes place inside and outside of the classroom. Another great thing is that so much of our learning is fun. Today was a great example of both of these qualities.
The LEAP Center Ambassadors are a non-partisan group. Individual Ambassadors make their own choices regarding volunteerism or work. Past and present Ambassadors have worked for Representative Senfronia Thompson (D), Representative John Otto (R), Mayor Anise Parker (D), US Congressman Kevin Brady (R), Senator Mary Landrieu (D), and many other members of both parties.