When UC Merced first announced it would be sending students to the national political conventions through The Washington Center program, senior Chelsea Coe never expected she'd be one of the lucky two.
Coe, a transfer student from Santa Monica, is a cognitive science major working with Professor Teenie Matlock. She said she figured the campus would select political science majors, but she didn't take into account the campus's philosophy of interdisciplinary research and experiences.
"The DNC was probably the best two weeks of my life," Coe said. "Being there was amazing. It was an energy you never could expect, and the amount of hustle and bustle, and glitz and glam of the Democratic Party was really inspiring."
Before attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Baltazar Cornejo was hoping to expand his knowledge of the convention process, how party platforms are chosen and how the delegate process works.
He gained much more than that.
"Everybody was very open-minded," said Cornejo, a political science major from Modesto. "There were students who were Democrats, students who were Independents and Libertarians, and we all had a great time."
Coe, who interned with Bloomberg News while at the convention, echoed Cornejo's sentiments about the diversity of the student participants.
The Washington Center program allowed colleges and universities throughout the nation to choose representatives to attend the conventions. This was the first time UC Merced participated in the program, which was funded by UC Merced's Student Affairs Division and the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
Both students walked away with an appreciation for democracy and the political process, and Cornejo easily summed up the message the pair brought home: "We are the future of politics and policies in our nation.”