Bob Graham Center students Hannah Townley and Gus Duran joined students from 35 other universities recently at Harvard for the Institute of Politics's National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement, an annual conference to foster engagement in electoral politics and help students pursuing careers in public service.
Over the course of the 3-day conference, held Feb. 7-9, 2020 on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Mass., they heard from speakers such as former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, Washington State Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, City of Boston Councilwoman Michelle Wu, presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick, and multiple campaign surrogates, political scientists, and community leaders.
As the national election this fall approaches, Townley and Duran will be looking for ways to engage the UF community in conversations about the importance of education and participation in the civic process, as well as hoping to implement new voter registration initiatives on campus.
"We heard some great ideas on inclusive voter registration, how to include out-of-state and International students in issue discussions, and hosting guided conversations," they wrote in a recent Graham Center student newsletter.
"It was an interesting and engaging learning opportunity and we are excited to bring back new ideas for civic engagement."
Townley is a sophomore from Lakeland, Fla., majoring in political science and English, with dual majors in Latin American and African studies. Gus Duran is a second year political science major from Bogotá, Colombia, who enjoys running and reading.
Through workshops and other events, the conference gaveTownley and Duran the chance to network with peers from universities around the country and share ideas for promoting civic engagement and community involvement at UF. They also had the opportunity to observe firsthand the canvassing efforts conducted just before the New Hampshire primary.
"But the best part of the experience came from sharing ideas with student from other universities for how to promote civic engagement and community involvement on the UF campus," they wrote.
"We came back with not only new ideas, but an urgent passion to do as much as we can in the coming months. We look forward to working with UF students as part of these efforts and hope they will reach out to us to learn more."