Suffolk students to attend 2020 national conventions

Suffolk University students will be able to watch the 2020 presidential election unfold first hand at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer, as part of two weeks of intensive seminars provided by The
Washington Center.

The Washington Center is a hub for college internships, and partners with universities across the nation. Suffolk students have been able to intern in political offices and take classes in Washington D.C. through the center for over 40 years.

This year’s summer seminar offered by the center is unique. Through the Campaign 2020: National Conventions Seminars, students have the opportunity to go to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and attend the Republican National Convention (RNC) to learn about the election, network and work in an area that relates to
their major, or in an area that they are interested in.

Each convention is its own seminar class, and students can attend both if they choose.

Government professor Christina Kulich-Vamvakas is The Washington Center liaison for Suffolk. Kulich-Vamvakas hopes students attend either of the convention summer seminars. This opportunity is open to all undergraduate students and only comes once every four years, she said.

“There is a place for everyone, communication students, sociology, and criminal justice students should experience this opportunity because through The Washington Center, they can network and actually do some real work,” said Kulich-Vamvakas.

According to the Suffolk University Bursar’s Office, summer classes at the university are $1,171 per credit.  One seminar through The Washington Center costs more than $4,000.

Students are not eligible for financial aid during the summer, so students either have to take out federal loans or private loans to pay for the conference, or pay out of pocket. The seminar is worth four credits; the same as a normal class that is offered during the fall and spring semesters.

Politics, philosophy and economics major Clare Thomsen is attending both the DNC and RNC through the center this summer. Thomsen has a passion for politics, but her career focus is law-oriented. Thomsen said she is looking forward to networking at the convent ions, seeing different civil rights activist groups and creating connections she can use after she graduates in 2022.

“I am excited to go to both conventions. If there are a lot of (Democratic) candidates left, it will be interesting how that all plays out in July for the DNC,” said Thomsen.

Students who attend the seminars will be able to attend briefing sessions with politicians and visit historical and cultural sites. During past seminars, students have met and asked questions to former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Massachusetts Rep. James McGovern, who is also currently the chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Sebastian Gorka, former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump.

Over winter break, Suffolk offered a seminar called Inside Washington through the center. This past winter break, sophomore government major Kasey Armstrong questioned Gorka about Trump’s administration.

“My perspective on politics has changed, and this experience allowed me to gain the courage to ask politicians the tough questions, as I hope to run for office one day,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong strongly encourages students to attend these seminars, as this opportunity only comes once every four years.

“It’s not just for government majors. I recommend this seminar to anyone who is interested in knowing what is going on in the world to engage in this experience,” said Armstrong.