Canton Repository

July 29, 2004

Convention awes Alliance students

Copley Washington correspondent

BOSTON —— Becky Zink has made quite a leap — from volunteering at Stark County Democratic Party headquarters to assisting with Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign in Boston.

The 20-year-old Alliance woman is among five students from Mount Union College who came to the Democratic National Convention with their professor, North Canton delegate Jack DeSario, to gain some real world experience in the politics they have studied in the classroom.

As Kerry arrived at the convention by boat Wednesday afternoon, Zink was there. Hustling back and forth at the Charlestown Navy Yard, she passed out campaign signs to volunteers and helped to make sure everything went smoothly.

“It was fun, it was exciting — a lot of work went into it,” said Zink, a junior who is majoring in political science at Mount Union, a small liberal arts college in Alliance.

Kerry, who accepts the nomination tonight, gave a speech when he arrived Wednesday — but Zink was too busy to listen to it.

“I was running around doing things,” she said.

Just to prove it’s a small world, Zink ran into a fellow Canton resident who is working full-time for Kerry right now. But on instructions from the campaign, the woman said she couldn’t reveal her name or talk with reporters.

This is the first time DeSario, an occasional local campaign manager, has brought students to a convention.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see how things are really done, see informal conversations that are going on and meet people,” he said.

Zink, assigned to the Kerry campaign as part of her internship, also helped out at a luncheon hosted by Emily’s List, a group that raises money for women candidates who support abortion rights.

Another Mount Union student, Stephanie Barille of Mayfield Heights, took notice of the freewheeling atmosphere at the convention. When she has watched these political events on TV, they always seem formal, she said.

“It’s really like a party,” she said after seeing delegates break into a dance in between speeches.

DeSario has been trying to get each of the students into the hall at least once during the convention. He’s been hitting up friends to loan him their coveted passes for the students.

Zink, who had a ticket to the opening speeches on Monday, described former President Bill Clinton’s address as electrifying.

“It was just amazing,” she said. “The energy they (Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.) created was phenomenal.”

A Democrat for some time, Zink said her father’s job loss has strengthened her resolve to support Kerry.

“About a month ago I got a phone call from my mom,” she said, who told her their summer vacation was canceled. “She told me that my dad (a production worker) had been laid off from his job at the Alliance Review,” a local newspaper. “He had worked there 38 years.

“That showed me that there was something wrong with the way things are going in our country and that it was time for a change,” she said.

Not all the interns at the convention are Kerry supporters.

Consider Lisa Sas of Elyria, who described her family as former Democrats who have voted for Republicans since Clinton.

Being among so many Democrats has caused Sas, a Mount Union student, to discover that she disagrees with the other side even more sharply than she thought.

But the experience also has given her a better sense for those who differ with her politically.

“They feel just as passionately about what they believe,” she said.