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GOP convention presents learning opportunities


Six students from Hillsborough Community College (Florida) are interning at the Republican National Convention. They are (from left) Tony Lee, James Streeter, Emily Duren, Patrick Brathwaite, Analise Griffith and Sasha Sierra-Martinez.

Hillsborough Community College (HCC) in Tampa, Fla., is using the Republican National Convention (RNC) as a learning experience for students.

The college is working with the The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) to give select students from HCC and from colleges across the country an inside look at the RNC. HCC is the first community college to serve as a partner institution with TWC.

Students spent the first week of the program learning the history of political campaigns, convention planning and procedures, and the role of the media. This week is all about hands-on learning, with fieldwork assignments and time spent at rallies and receptions.

An insider's look

Six HCC students were selected to participate in TWC internships during the RNC. Three are interning with CNN, and three with the Committee on Arrangements, which organizes the RNC.

“It’s an eye-opener,” said James Streeter, an HCC sophomore interning with the Committee on Arrangements.

Today at the Republican National Convention, Valencia College President Sanford Shugart will participate in a panel discussion on creating jobs. Watch it on Huffington Post Live at 1 p.m. ET.

Though he’ll get to hear some big-name speakers, Streeter is most excited about talking with delegates from all over the country and the networking opportunities.

“I want to absorb it all like a sponge,” he said.

Streeter admitted that he hasn’t followed politics closely, but after last week’s seminars, he has a “more fundamental idea of how important our political process is.”

A first step toward his future

Patrick Brathwaite wants to run for political office someday. His internship with CNN allows him to see politicians up close and personal. On Sunday, he worked with the network’s State of the Union show, escorting guests. He spent Monday on another CNN show, where he saw Newt Gingrich.

And he’s not letting a minute of his internship be wasted. In his downtime, he interviews the interviewers, including Wolf Blitzer, who Brathwaite said is “very down to earth.”

At the end of the RNC, he’ll move up the coast to Charlotte,N.C., to continue with CNN at the Democratic National Convention.

Brathwaite knows this is not an opportunity many community college students get. It’s an “honor and a privilege” to represent HCC, he said.