As Hofstra University kicked off its Presidential Conference on George W. Bush this morning, a small army of student volunteers stood at the ready to escort invited conference speakers and panelists to their scheduled events. Under the direction of Associate Professor of Political Science Paul Fritz, the young ambassadors were given a potentially unique opportunity to interact with policymakers and distinguished scholars during the conference.
Their studies are all deeply rooted in political science, but the students’ reasons for volunteering as guides vary. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“I think U.S. politics is fascinating,” said Melissa Koenig. “I grew up with George W. Bush as president and I thought it would be interesting to look back to see what was good and bad [about his presidency]. I wanted to meet people who were part of the Bush administration.” Koenig was assigned to Peter Baker, Chief White House correspondent for The New York Times.
“I was here in 2012 for the presidential debate and I saw firsthand what Hofstra can do when they bring together pundits, political leaders, and journalists,” said Matthew La Corte, who was assigned to Alan C. Lowe, Director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“It’s something rare to see all of these people together,” said Grace Glennan, who was assigned to Professor James Pfiffner of George Mason University. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”
College Republicans (Hofstra GOP) president Joe Sica had this to say: “I think George W. Bush gets a bad rap. People criticize him way too much. I want to see how people who were part of his administration see things.” Sica was assigned to Thomas J. Basile, Senior Press Adviser to Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
For Sarah Andrea Esteban, who emigrated to the United States from the Philippines in May 2002, “I thought this conference would help me to get a better understanding [of the George W. Bush presidency] objectively. I am a Democrat, and my family has influenced my views,” she said. Esteban and her mom moved here in the wake of 9/11, and she grew up feeling unsure about the U.S. government. “I want to balance my views.” Estaban was assigned to Porter J. Goss, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2004-2006) and Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives, (R-FL; 1989-2004).