We first made our way back to the Fred Jones Art Museum for the second day of the conference where another round of panelists awaited us. The first series of panelists included research papers by undergrads and grad students from various universities in Oklahoma. Today’s research topics included:
Media focus on candidate traits by gender
Children’s perceptions of authority figures over time
Reframing substance abuse from morality to illness
While Jessica, Zach, and Professor Yawn enjoyed a brief discussion on the transformation of higher education from online education, Dulce and Constance had the opportunity to hear from a panel that discussed the “Identity and Legitimation in Authoritarian Regimes”. Speakers Derek Steiger and David Stroup both gave insight on the effect of nationalism on maintaining the Chinese Communist Party. Both speakers conveyed their arguments in a clear, concise, and captivating manner. The next two speakers, Burcu Degirmen and Daniel Brown, spoke on the Turkish Summer and the misconception of it relating to the Arab Spring rather than the “Occupying Wallstreet” movement. An accomplished writer and expert on southern politics, Scott E. Buchanan closed out the conference over lunch with his speech about the changing electorate in the south and its implications on the nation as a whole.
The experience of the conference was uniformly positive, from the setting in the Fred Jones, Jr. Art Museum…
to the hospitality of the organizers, to the chance to do some old-fashioned “telephone booth stuffing”…
…to the chance to meet undergraduates from different institutions, to the interesting topics, this was a great opportunity, and we are grateful.
After our conference concluded we were happily surprised by gourmet cupcakes. We enjoyed various flavors including but not limited to Canadian maple bacon, bananas foster, salted caramel, and German chocolate. We also got to see some of the fall’s changing colors, something we don’t see much of in Texas.
We had to rush to meet our two o clock tour at the Oklahoma State Capitol Building, but we were impressed by its architectural significance when we arrived. The capitol beautifully captured all aspects of Oklahoma’s history and its people.
Jessica, who has been to many state capitols, enjoyed this immensely and particularly liked the Senate Chamber.
Zachary’s favorite part about the capitol building was how different parts of the state’s history and its people were displayed throughout the halls.
Dulce’s favorite part was the recently added rotunda. Although it was added onto the capital in 2001, the dome blended seamlessly into the standing architecture of the capitol building.
Constance’s favorite part was learning of the history of the building from the charming tour guide, who was extensively knowledgeable in everything from architecture to political change and ramifications that have shaped Oklahoma’s history.
We also learned, it’s worth noting, that Oklahoma, like Texas, has two Supreme Courts, one that addresses criminal issues and another that addresses civil issues.
Leaving the state capitol building…
…we took a short drive through Oklahoma City to reach our next destination, the National Cowboy and Heritage Museum.
With only an hour and a half to enjoy all the museum had to offer, we made our way, soaking in as much as possible in such a short amount of time.
Dulce most enjoyed the Western Performers Gallery, as she was able to test her knowledge of popular western television shows through an interactive quiz. She got a 12 out of 13, matching theme songs to television westerns, and enjoying the exhibits associated with Western Performers.
Constance’s favorite painting happened to be “The Quarrel” by Frederick Remington since she could almost create her own story behind the argumentative body language of the cowboys and their hostile nature.
Jessica’s favorite part happened to be the Ronald Reagan statue because of his history as a president and a cowboy.
The John Wayne and Charlton Heston Statues stood out most to Zach.
Everyone pretty much enjoyed the beautiful art in the Museum, the “Canyon Princess” sculpture…
…the Lincoln Sculpture…
and The End of the Trail Sculpture, the latter of which serves as the Museum’s centerpiece…
…and the museum grounds were pretty, too…
To wait out the hectic traffic of Oklahoma City, we enjoyed a coffee and scintillating conversation at a local starbucks. With growling bellies, stories and recommendations of restaurants were swapped until it was time to head back to Norman for dinner. Locating “Hideaway”, home of the “best pizza in the state”, we scarfed down appetizers and delicious pizza to satiate our voracious appetites after a long day of touring the city.
The day’s activities left us exhausted and in much need of an early night’s sleep. Tired as we are, we cannot wait to begin the adventure again tomorrow.
As this is my first trip with the Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP), I honestly have no idea what adventure is in store. But the first day has been intriguing, insightful, and more importantly, easy! Now while I do not expect the rest of the trip to be this languid I am definitely enjoying the six-hour drive to Norman, Oklahoma.
This afternoon, we left the Walker Education Center in Huntsville, with a few extra LEAP Center students in tow, for College Station and the Bush Library to attend the kickoff event for the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of President George H. W. Bush’s election. Moderated by the CEO of the Bush Presidential Foundation, Fred McClure, we had the pleasure of sitting in on the discussion by President Bush’s former personal photographer, David Valdez, and President Bush’s campaign manager for the northeast area, Ron Kaufman.
Through their storytelling it was clear they both deeply respect and admire President Bush. Mr. Valdez spoke of how even though the former President was a naval pilot in World War Two and could use that to win votes in his campaign, he was reluctant to do so. He was also similarly reluctant to use showcase his religious beliefs to appeal to the emerging Evangelical vote. Both speakers knew the details of President Bush’s life and testified to his character during the campaign. It was a great experience to hear first hand the stories about a man who did much for this country!
It was also a pleasure to spend time with some students who couldn’t make it on the trip. Joey Medrano, Ariel Traub, Quan Hall, and Clinton Morrison, also attended the event, had dinner with us, and then returned to Huntsville. And we were especially pleased that Gene Roberts, Director of Legal Services at SHSU, came with us for the evening’s festivities.
Now, after enjoying a filling meal from Blue Baker on a chilly November evening, we make our trek towards the University of Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Political Science Association Annual Conference. If today is any indication of how the rest of the trip will go, I am stoked! We should arrive at the hotel around three am to wake up and get going again around six. Looks like I better enjoy the relaxation while it lasts.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s stimulating adventures!
Day One: Jessica Rodriguez
As temperatures were dropping below 50 degrees in Huntsville and our excitement for this new learning adventure built up, we commenced the first day of our trip to Oklahoma with a quick visit to the George W. H. Bush library. The Library was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the election of George W. H. Bush as President of The United States of America. Upon entering the library grounds I noticed the beautiful “The Day the Wall Came Down” installation of five horses was taking with the reflection of the sunset.
We were politely greeted by neatly uniformed students of the Bush School and directed towards the auditorium. Ariel, Zachary, and I sat in the third row right behind the reserved spots which were occupied by the State of Texas Supreme Court judges, the College Station Mayor, and a couple of State Representatives. The program began with a slideshow of historical and energizing photographs of Bush Sr. and his loved ones through his campaign. Then we heard a moderated talk with David Valdez, the former Presidential photographer, and Ron Kaufman, Bush’s campaign manager of the northeast region. They both emphasized the approachable and sincere personality of W. H. Bush, but they also pointed out some of the bumps on the road they crossed. For example, when the then President elect was confronted by Dan Rather in 1988, a mini-controversy erupted.
This event, according to Kaufman, helped turn the 1988 campaign around and helped Bush win the election.
We were also fortunate to have time to speak with Valdez, and he expressed interest in visiting SHSU at some point, a prospect that excited all of us.
We concluded the night by arriving to Norman, Oklahoma at about 3 am with even lower temperatures than Huntsville on the mid 30’s.
Day One: Dulce Martinez
We commenced our five-day trip to Oklahoma by making a small detour at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The George Bush Presidential Library Foundation kicked-off a yearlong celebration of the 25th Anniversary of then Vice President George H. W. Bush winning the Presidency in November 1988. The event featured two key speakers who played a key part in the election of President H. W. Bush. One was the northeast regional political director of the Bush Campaign, Ron Kaufman. He operated in Boston, Massachusetts, home of Michael Dukakis, Bush’s opponent.
Kaufman gave great insight on the strategy in keeping a headquarters in Boston. He explained it was a way of prompting Governor Dukakis into thinking he could lose his own state, forcing Dukakis to spend a large amount of time in Massachusetts.
David Valdez, the second speaker, was the personal photographer for President George H. W. Bush. Valdez documented every step of the election with photography.
He spoke about how the campaign struggled with the media, most interesting the showdown between Dan Rather, CBS reporter, and Bush. During the interview, Rather attacked Bush on the controversy of the Iran-Contra incident under the Reagan Administration. The live televised interview helped the campaign because it showed critics that Bush was not “soft,” but an actual contender who would fight back when attacked. Both the speakers did a fantastic job in giving glimpse of what went on behind the scenes of the election, and we are grateful to the Bush Library for the great job they did putting the event together.
Day One: Zach Goodlander
Day one of our whirlwind trip is now in the books. Our fist stop as part of our trip to Oklahoma was in College Station to an event at the Bush Library. The focus of the event was a 25th anniversary celebration of President Bush’s ’88 election victory.
The two speakers were David Valdez, Bush’s personal photographer and Ron Kaufman, a longtime campaign adviser.
In the audience with our group were some other notable dignitaries, including multiple Texas State Supreme Court Justices, Texas Congressmen and local city councilman. These dignitaries bring their own perspectives and stories, which really add to the discussion as well.
The two main speakers were perfectly suited for the discussion, with each bringing a different perspective of the campaign. Valdez let the audience in on personal stories about himself and Vice President Bush. Meanwhile, Kaufman described the campaign in a larger context.
Now, having made the most of our trip to the Bush Library it’s now time to drive though the night to Oklahoma City, another day of opportunity awaits in the morning.
Having concluded my first trip with the L.E.A.P program, I must say I’ve already started looking ahead to the next. On this trip I was exposed to a part of Dallas I’d never seen before and I learned an extensive amount of information pertinent to a future career in politics.
The trip revolved around the New Politics Forum, set up to introduce students to different careers in politics, to network with other students and those already in the career field. My favorite panel was the last, the “Alumni Panel” made up of recent SMU alumni who have gone onto successful careers in politics. I liked this panel in particular because they most described what it takes to be successful and gave specific examples of how they’ve gotten opportunities. My favorite speaker was the keynote, State Senator Royce West.
Though he is a Democrat and I may not agree with him on all matters of policy, I liked his speech best. As he I watched him speak impromptu, using different public speaking skills, I learned firsthand how a politician communicates.
While our trip was centered on the NPF while in Dallas we visited multiple sites in the city, my favorite stop of which was the George W. Bush Library. While Bush isn’t my favorite president and I didn’t agree with all his policies, I very much respect him both personally and as the president who shaped my youth. Walking thru the exhibit in the library and seeing images of 9/11 will forever give me chills.
In conclusion, as we wrap up the trip and I look back on the past three days, I can already look ahead to a future that has been positively influenced by this weekend.
Tessa Fendley: Day 3
The third and final day of the L.E.A.P program trip to Dallas seemed to pass by in a blur. We toured downtown Dallas on Segways, seeing a lot of different historical sites. Two of the more notable ones were the Dallas City Hall and Pioneer Plaza“cattle run.” We learned that City Hall was constructed so as to provide shade to the people working in the offices and to pedestrians below. Pioneer Plaza, built by Robert Summers, consists of copper sculptures of a larger-than-life herd of longhorn cattle. Commissioned by the City of Dallas, it is a stunning sight.
We then ate at what was my favorite place of the entire trip, Twisted Root. This wonderful eatery offered a variety of unusual burger options, including kangaroo, ostrich, and buffalo. I chose the vegetarian black bean burger, covered in onions, cheese, and pickles. To accompany my burger, I ordered fried pickles and French fries, which I enjoyed covered in their variety of homemade sauces.
Our last stop before finally heading back home was a small café. We each ordered a variety of cookies and coffee. I got a sandy pecan, a pecan delight, and a chocolate covered praline, all accompanied by a delicious coffee and an original Coke.
This experience in Dallas is something that I will never forget. The Sixth Floor Museum, the NPF Conference, the Segway tour, and the delicious food were all great ways to kick off my freshman year of college, along with making connections with people that I hope to see again.
Ariel Traub: Day 3
As our trip came to a close, I looked back on all of the amazing things we experienced and the great opportunities that we had. While we did much on this trip, my favorite experience was the Segway tour.
We departed the hotel early and headed to downtown Dallas to Nation Tours. We arrived at a large empty building with several Segways lined up along a wall, greeted by a very happy and upbeat tour guide, Doug, who showed us how to properly use the Segway (after handing out helmets).
We ventured outside where we each practiced on the Segway in order to ensure we could handle riding on our own. A few of us had a rocky start but, after all, it was our first time. Once we all got the hang of riding the Segway, the real fun began. We started the historical tour of Downtown Dallas at 9:30am. It was a full and fun experience, plus we got to see a giant eyeball, really!
I even got to eat at a food truck during our tour. There were no Segway accidents or civilian casualties – all the inexperienced Segway drivers made it through the two-hour-plus trip, although some of us did almost get hit while trying to take a picture in the middle of the street.
I had a great time in Dallas with the L.E.A.P. program and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have attended the NPF Careers in Politics Conference. It is great that Sam Houston State University helps students achieve academic success and provide such great opportunities to build their futures.
Jennifer Flores: Day 3
Unfortunately today was the last day of our trip to Dallas, but the fun wasn’t over… We woke up early for a morning Segway tour around the Dallas downtown. It was my first time on a Segway, but after I found my balance, it turned out to be one of the most fun forms of transportation on which I’ve been! The tour allowed us to explore many of Dallas’s historic sites and modern spaces. I especially enjoyed the Segway tour because it really gave me an up close and personal tour of city, allowing me to experience Dallas in whole new way.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant, Twisted Root Burger Co., which might just be my new favorite restaurant! They have everything a burger lover craves, and they make their own tasty root beer. I had the buffalo burger with fried green beans and would recommend that to everyone.
Our next stop was the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
The museum tells the chronological story of President George Bush’s life and his years of presidency. Artifacts, photographs, and videos details the president’s challenges of global war on terror, education reform, a financial crisis, and the efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS abroad. I was very touched by the piece of steel from the World Trade Center that now hangs in display; it is a part of the museum that triggers emotions for everyone that remembers 9/11/01.
The New Politics Forum Careers in Politics was my first trip with the L.E.A.P program and it was truly more than I thought it would be. Our trip not only offered an historical learning adventure but we also gained networking experiencing at the NPF seminar. We had the pleasure of meeting Texas Representatives Rafael Anchia and Kenneth Sheets and Texas Senator Royce West. It was a great way to get to know fellow SHSU classmates and make lasting friendships, and I’m looking forward to future events with L.E.A.P.
Coby Steele: Day 3
We woke up to a nice cool morning on our last day in Dallas and set off for an early morning tour through downtown Dallas (on Segways). Having grown up not far from Dallas, I was surprised at how much I did not know about the city I had visited when I was younger. We saw fascinating parks around the city, historic sites like the Old Red Courthouse and the JFK Memorial, and Dealey Plaza, the site of JFK’s assassination, where some of us had a scare with Dallas traffic while taking pictures.
After lunch (at the Twisted Root Burger Company, featured on The Food Network), we returned to the SMU campus, this time to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. The library hosted many artifacts used and presented to President and Laura Bush during their time in the White House and trips abroad. The exhibits were laid out along a timeline starting at President Bush’s first campaign for the presidency. Through the exhibits we were able to step back through the major events that shaped the country at that time as well as hear President Bush’s explanations that led to his decisions. Hearing him explain in his own words his reasons for getting involved in the AIDS fight in Africa, the 2008 economic crisis and, most interestingly, the Iraq War, was the part I found most interesting, and it brought for me more understanding as to what was going on in the country’s executive office during those tumultuous years.
We arrived in Huntsville around 7:30pm, concluding a successful and educational trip. I learned a lot about a city near which I had grown up as well as ideas for a successful career in my chosen field.
Brian King: Day 3
The third and final day of our trip began with a Segway tour of downtown Dallas. Before we could begin, our tour guide gave us a crash course (no pun intended) on how to properly maneuver the Segway. Since this would be my first experience on a Segway, I looked forward to it being the tour of my hometown.
On the tour, my favorite buildings were the Old Red Museum and the Adolphus Hotel. The architecture (Romanesque style) and stone material (made of red sandstone and blue granite) of the Old Red Museum were the main components that caught my attention. Originally, the Old Red Museum operated as the Dallas County Courthouse. I really admired the distinct roof of the Adolphus Hotel, influenced by French architectural design (known as “Beaux-Arts” architecture) and also designed by Adolphus Busch (fun fact: founder of the Anheuser-Busch company). This building was known for some time as the tallest in the state of Texas. We also saw the Thanksgiving Chapel, designed by Philip Johnson (who also did the JFK Memorial)…
We stopped for lunch in the Deep Ellum District at Twisted Root Burger Co. After lunch, we visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of SMU. The museum was very informative of not only Bush’s personal life, but more importantly, what made his character distinct from the other honorable gentlemen who have held the highest elected position in the United States of America.
The Bush Presidential Library was very interactive and engaging with various activities describing how the Bush Administration tackled social and global issues within the realms of domestic and foreign affairs. A distinct part of the Bush Presidential Library I really enjoyed was the father-son statue of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, just outside of the museum. To me, the statue represented two men of faith and noble character.
In all, I really enjoyed gaining insight from various actors in the field of politics: congressmen, political reporters, attorneys, and more. This was a great event for students to gain knowledge of what it takes to get into politics, as well as what to expect within the political field. I look forward to SHSU’s L.E.A.P. program preparing future graduates this type of opportunity.
The second day of our Dallas trip started early Saturday morning at the Southern Methodist University campus. SMU has one of the most beautiful campuses we have seen. The architecture is the first thing that captures your eye. Dallas Hall, for example, is beautiful, and it was the first building on SMU’s campus (1915), designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge.
Also impressive was the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, the location for our New Politics Forum Seminar. Given Tower’s history serving Texas, it was a fitting venue for our conference on public careers.
Representative Sheets fell into politics through his work in the military and volunteering for the Republican Party. Unusual for a public official, he notes that he is horrible at remembering names. His tip for combating this is to always call someone “Ma’am” or “Sir.”
Representative Anchia, a first generation American, was the speaker who stood out the most to us. He emphasized that politics and public service are separate, and that the former should never get in the way of the latter. He was also spent the most time with students from SHSU, appearing impressed with the school’s LEAP program.
Our second session featured the keynote speaker, Senator Royce West. He is a fine speaker, and he interacted well with the audience.
He emphasized integrity as well as the importance of bipartisanship. He applied these qualities to his own career, and noted that he was able to save his own legislative agenda by “listening and working with people.” He also graciously stayed after with us, and encouraged us to continue getting the most out of our education.
The last panel of the day addressed the Media and was led by Carol Reed, of Reed PRC, and Gromer Jeffers, from the Dallas Morning News. Both, again, pressed issues of integrity and, members of the media, stressed credibility.
Following the event, we moved to Bandito’s Mexican Cantina for food and conversation. We met Casey Bingham, who works for Greg Abbott and is a member of the Young Republicans of Dallas.
We also met a student from UNT, who told us about a program the University offers focusing on non-profit economics.
We dined at Eatzi’s, a build-your-own meal place, that combines elements of a grocery story and a sit-down cafe. Here we enjoyed a wonderful array of foods. One of the must haves is the spicy spaghetti, with freshly prepared pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. If comfort food is your thing, the combination of the lemon chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes is the ideal combination. If you are adventurous, the sweet curry chicken offers a unique blend of ingredients and texture. For dessert, we visited a small gelato ship, and I Had the “Monkey Business” gelato, which was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had, offering banana, cinnamon, vanilla, and—as a surprise—chocolate.
With some energy restored, we headed to Dallas City Hall, which was designed I. M. Pei, probably the most celebrated living architect. It was a beautiful and peaceful scene.
From there, we checked out Pioneer Plaza, which was created by Robert Summers, a Texas artist. It is the largest bronze sculpture in the world and makes for a dramatic scene in downtown Dallas.
We woke up Saturday morning at 7:30, eager to begin the day’s activities. We soon left for the Southern Methodist University campus and, on the way, we were able to get a glimpse of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, which we were excited to see as our group will be visiting the library the next day. When we arrived at the at SMU’s Hughes-Trigg Student center we were able to enter and get acclimated to where we would be spending most of our day.
The New Politics Forum was hosted by The Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life and the John G. Tower Center for Political studies at SMU. They were so kind as to provide participants with a complimentary breakfast array and time to socialize leading up to the first panel of the day.
Our group was the first to greet the event staff and we were able to meet many interesting students as they arrived. After enjoyable conversations, we were called to the first panel at 9:30.
On the first panel were three politicians, Representative Rafael Anchia, Representative Kenneth Sheets and Chancellor Lee Jackson, each providing unique perspectives. Rep. Anchia stressed knowing your constituents and being able to relate to them. Rep. Sheets centered his discussion on remaining true to yourself and what you believe in and not being beholden to others. Chancellor Jackson, a former State Representative, focused on professionalism, emphasizing the importance for young people to be well dressed and responsible on social media, but also by working hard and staying late. It was his easy going personality and his obvious breadth of knowledge and experience that made Chancellor Jackson the favorite of Brian, Coby and Zach.
The first panel was followed by the Keynote speaker, State Senator Royce West. He spoke of his work in the Texas Senate and shared his history that led him to elected office. Senator West engaged with the audience during his speech, speaking to each one of us directly at one point or another. He was inspirational and uplifting, and he spoke highly of the character, dedication and hard work it should take to be a public servant. The Senator’s speech was truly captivating.
After Senator West concluded we broke for a box lunch, making sure to sit with people we didn’t already know, to network, exchange business cards and make new friends.
The second panel was composed of consultant Carol Reed and Dallas Morning News reporter Gromer Jeffers, providing us the consummate “insider” and “outsider” perspectives. Both stressed taking advantage of opportunities. Ms. Reed particularly stressed loyalty and speaking your mind and Mr. Jeffers encouraged us to follow our passions while maintaining integrity. We were fortunate enough after the panel ended to have a short, personal discussion with Mr. Jeffers.
The last panel was the “We did it, so can you!” Alumni Panel, which consisted of SMU alumni Warren Seay, Kristina Kiik, David de la Fuente, and Johnathan Boos. During the Alumni Panel, Dr. Dennis Simon moderated as recent SMU graduates gave their personal insight into the field of politics. One NPF alumnus, Warren Seay, offered knowledge of his election to board president for the Desoto ISD school board at the age of 22, explaining that hard work, skill, and reputation play key roles in electoral politics.
The event was interesting, and provided us with the opportunity to see students from other schools. In some ways, these students are our competitors. In others, they are our partners. Zach struck a particular bond with a visiting member of the Dallas Young Republicans, Casey Bingham, a lawyer, who also graduated from Willis High School.
After the networking event, we ventured to Eatzi’s Market and Bakery for dinner, indulging in various entrees such as: lemon marinated grilled chicken, chicken curry potato salad, salmon croquette, and hummus. Dessert followed—various flavors of gelato (Italian ice cream) at Paciugo Gelato Café.
We then headed to the southern edge of downtown to see Dallas City Hall, built in 1978 by I.M. Pei. Pei designed the unique building in the shape of an inverted pyramid which appeared to lean toward the center of downtown, bringing the workers closer to the heart of the city. The building was commissioned to revamp the image of Dallas after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and it features one of the best views of downtown.
Moving down Flora St. we came to Pioneer Plaza which has a collection of metal cowboys and steer, depicting a cattle drive along the Shawnee Trail. These two stops concluded our long and educational day. After leaving the Plaza, we came back to the hotel to recoup and ready ourselves for our last day.
Saturday was the L.E.A.P students second day in Dallas. Each of us was up before sunrise to get ready for the central focus of our trip to Dallas, The New Politics Forum Careers in Politics at Southern Methodist University. We began by enjoying a complementary breakfast in the hotel lobby which included cinnamon rolls, cereal, fruit and even a pancake making machine!
We arrived at the SMU campus at 8:30 a.m. and began mingling with other program participants during the breakfast social.
The program consisted of several prominent speakers that would give advice to students about political and public service involvement as well as share their personal stories.
The first panel of speakers included Texas Representative Rafael Anchia, Texas Representative Kennith Sheets and Chancellor Lee Jackson. These distinguished public officials shared their stories of success along with their occasional frustrations working in government. Chancellor Jackson described his aversion to social media while Representatives Anchia and Sheets spoke of their succeess with social media in campaigning and re-election. When asked what each of their frustrations with policy making were, Representatives Anchia and Sheets bemoaned fundraising. However, Chancellor Jackson had a very different view. Chancellor Jackson, however, described some of the things he’d like to see enacted (e.g., professional salaries, annual sessions) as some of his biggest challenges.
Next, we heard from Senator Royce West, the keynote speaker. Senator West was very personable during his speech and never was there a dull moment! Senator West spoke of his career path and his journey to a Senatorial Seat. He opened the speech with a story about his college football coach. His sophomore year of college, he approached his coach and said. “Coach, I just don’t want to play football any more.” His coach began to get angry and said, “Royce, you’re never gonna amount to nothin’!” West was later elected president of Student Government and had to approve the football department’s budget. Before the football coach’s presentation, West said, “How do you like me now?” While his speech was funny and memorable, it also had purpose. He outlined four main points in his speech:
1. Try to work through the problem and work through it the best you can.
2. You can’t serve yourself and the public at the same time.
3. Listen and work with people ragardless of their political affiliation.
4. Most issues are geographical issues, not partisan issues.
He really strived to convey the message that being a public servant was not an easy path and has no room for self-interested thinking.
Next, a panel of media experts spoke about their experiences working within the political realm. The guest speakers were Carol Reed, President of The Reeds PRC and Gromer Jeffers, political reporter for the Dallas Morning News. Carol Reed worked on Senator John Tower’s campaign in 1976. She has also spearheaded “landmark” projects with American Airlines. Gromer Jeffers is originally from Chicago and he worked his way up the journalism ladder in Dallas, Texas. One of his first tasks as a political reporter was to cover Barack Obama’s presidency campaign.
After the media experts panel adjourned, the SMU alumni’s panel convened. The students included Warren Seay, President of DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees, Kristina Kiik, U.S. District Judge Royal, David de la Fuente, former President of Dallas County Young Democrats, and Jonathan Boos, President of Dallas County Young Republicans. The alumni discussed their experiences in the political world, both good and bad. They also shared a unanimous view that the best way for current college students to get involved in politics was to work on a campaign that we were passionate about.
After the Careers in Politics Conference, we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Eatzi’s. Eatzi’s has a wide variety of foods ranging from brisket tacos to chicken curry. The brisket tacos were delicious; however, they don’t compare to the brisket tacos at Farmhouse Sweets and Eats in Huntsville, Texas. Many of us became adventurous and tried new foods such as hummus, chicken curry and shrimp salad. After dinner, we ventured over to Paciugo Gelato Cafe for desert. There were so many flavors to choose from; however I chose peanut butter chocolate swirl. The gelato was unlike Blue Bell ice cream in so many ways! Gelato is much thicker, creamer and sweeter!
We concluded our night with two short pit stops. The first being Dallas City Hall. City Hall was built by I. M. Pei for 70 million dollars in the 1970s. It is an intriguing design, and made for a peaceful stop after a long day.
The building was constructed to allay the Texas heat, while also providing an intriguing design and a new image for a City known, at that time, as the home of Lee Harvey Oswald.
The second pit stop was the Dallas Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive. The many statues of cattle depict authentic cattle drives in the south. There were seventy bronze statues of longhorns running through the park along with three bronze statues of cattle wranglers driving the herd. There are also beautiful water features throughout the Cattle Drive that help to add to the authenticity of the art.
In conclusion, today was a very memorable day! We learned a lot about politics from officials and experts that have been in the industry for quite a while. We were also able to expand our cultural knowledge and appreciation for Dallas, Texas!
I, and other students involved in the L.E.A.P program, set off on our adventure to Dallas around noon this Friday afternoon, stopping along the way to visit the esteemed Woodbine Hotel for lunch, which is known for making delicious meals slathered in mushrooms. I ordered the alfredo pasta with vegetables, and it was delightful. The mushrooms were all that they had been hyped to be. We set off again after lunch, full and anxious to continue on to Dallas.
We arrived at the JFK 6th Floor Museum and quickly began our tour. We exlored the early campaigning techniques of JFK, focusing partly on how he used his youth to his advantage, as well as having the opportunity to have one the first televised presidential debates. This may have proved decisive, as he won by a small margin.
What I thought was very interesting was learning more about the public works programs he established, specifically the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is government funded mission work, originally established by JFK to send service people to foreign countries to try and aid in what he hoped would be the eradication of Communism. Eventually JFK decided that these measures alone were not enough and the program was expanded. For me, this was very inspirational and hit close to home, as I hope to one day become involved in the Peace Corps.
Next we ventured on to dinner, and from there to the Dallas Museum of Art. There were many interesting things to be seen here. There was art work by well-known artists such as Picasso to anonymous, cultural artifacts from all over the globe. My favorite exhibit by a wide margin was the African artifacts. I particularly enjoyed seeing and learning about the different types of hats and masks that were worn in Africa…
My favorite was a hat that doubles as a mask…
The Museum also had an African map, designating the location the artifacts were collected.
For a freshman who wishes to do volunteer work in Africa as a junior, it was an exciting preview of things to come! And in that spirit, we left the Museum and headed to the hotel, equally anticipatory of the second day of our trip.
Today was day one of our journey to Dallas for the New Politics Forum Careers in Politics Seminar at Southern Methodist University (SMU). As we had several stops on our itinerary, we departed SHSU at 12:00pm for Madisonville, where we would have lunch at the Woodbine Hotel.
The Woodbine Hotel, located in the heart of Madisonville, offers local specialties on its lunch menu. The atmosphere of the Woodbine was very inviting and warm and the food was delicious. The table was neatly set and there were cookies awaiting us as well. Several of the dishes showcased mushrooms since Madisonville is known for their mushroom farms and annual mushroom festival.
Departing The Woodbine, we set out for the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas. The drive was rocky due to thunderstorms; however, we managed to arrive safely. We embarked on our tour of the wonderful life and struggles of President John F. Kennedy. The Museum was set up to follow John F. Kennedy’s presidency chronologically. The tour started with his background and his family, then quickly moved to focus on issues that President Kennedy faced during his term, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Civil Rights Movement.
The majority of the tour, however, focused on President Kennedy’s assassination. The exhibits were very detailed, with examples and models that explained how and where the assassination took place. There were several videos throughout the exhibit that went into further detail about his presidency and the aftermath of the assassination.
The seventh floor of the Museum held a presidential photograph display. There were multiple candid photos of presidents throughout their presidencies. My favorite was of President Barack Obama enjoying a taco at a small diner while talking to the citizens in the diner!
We then ventured out to Dealy Plaza, President Kennedy’s assassination site. We were able to view the “x” marks on the road marking the exact spot where President Kennedy was shot both times. The Museum was a very enlightening experience that really opened my eyes to the complexity of the Kennedy Presidency.
Next, we arrived at The Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner. The atmosphere was comparable to an old circus with a train car in the middle of the dining room in which customers could sit and eat. Fortune telling machines and bright colors decorated the interior of the restaurant’s entryway. My meal, and dessert, was very delicious, and the portions were enormous!
Last, we made an impromptu stop at the Dallas Museum of Art. We toured the different levels of the museum, each focusing on a different type of art, ranging from African art to Picasso.
My favorite painting was “Conversion of St. Paul” by Benjamin West. This painting explained the journey of St. Paul and was both moving and provocative.
I can’t wait for day two of our wonderful adventure!