Mary Orth, a fourth-year new media interactive development student at Rochester Institute of Technology from Owego, N.Y., is paying extra attention to this year’s presidential debates. She was selected as a New York state district delegate for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Sept. 4–6. The invaluable experience in Charlotte, N.C., taught her about the election process and inspired her to keep up with the presidential election. Throughout the interview, look for links to photos from her time at the convention.
Question: How were you selected to attend the Democratic National Convention this year?
Answer: It was actually by chance that I was picked. Patricia Bence, the chair of the Tioga County Democratic Committee, is my neighbor and she knew President Barack Obama was looking for young people to attend the convention. She asked me to submit my name but said not to get my hopes up since no one from our county had ever been picked. I submitted a short essay, my résumé and a recent photo to the president’s campaign committee. It was a wonderful surprise when I received word that I was officially chosen as a delegate.
Q: What was the convention like?
A: Charlotte was completely transformed during the entire week at the convention. It was easy to feel the excitement running through all the delegates, guests, media, volunteers and speakers. It was just as easy to become fully absorbed in the positive and unifying atmosphere. Many attendees wore creative patriotic costumes or were covered with an impressive collection of campaign buttons and pins. It truly was an animated week, packed with compelling speakers and plenty of late-night events to meet and socialize with other delegates and politicians from around the country.
Q: What types of things did you do at the convention?
A: I attended various meetings throughout the week, like the Women’s Caucus and the Youth Council. In fact, I met second lady Jill Biden at the Youth Council when she stopped in for a surprise appearance! I experienced firsthand how these meetings give people the opportunity to provide input and shape the party’s platform.
Q: Who were your favorite speakers?
A: First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton were among the most mesmerizing speakers. Their passion, conviction and sincerity were strongly felt throughout the arena. It was electrifying to be surrounded by thousands of delegates cheering in unison. I also got to see many famous people up close and live—like the inspirational Gabby Giffords, former congresswoman from Arizona.
Q: How has this experience inspired you?
A: I’m ashamed to say that I was not too involved in politics before this experience. The DNC has inspired me to take an interest in local, national and global issues and policies. I might not want to get a career in politics, but I am very committed to voting and understanding the issues.
Orth is an honors student at RIT and a student ambassador for the School of Interactive Games and Media. She is also a member of the RIT Cycling Team and the RIT Public Relations Student Society of America executive board historian.