Resident Calls Working Presidential Debate 'Participating In History'
A Mahwah HIgh School grad who was chosen to work at last week's presidential debate spills the details about what her experience was really like
Mahwah resident and 2010 MHS graduate Kayla Engeman, a student at Hofstra University, was chosen to be a volunteer assistant at the town hall style Presidential debate last week between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
The following is a description she wrote for Patch detailing her experience.
On Tuesday, October 16, a feeling of Hofstra Pride was undeniable. I started the day by putting on my “Debate 2012” polo, and my credentials as provided by the United States’ Secret Service. I joined some fellow volunteers and headed off to the check- in site.
My assignment was “Production Assistant” for NBC in Spin Alley, which was stationed in the “Media Filing Center.” When I entered the Mack Physical Fitness Center, it was almost unrecognizable. The rock wall was covered by “Debate 2012” signs and hidden behind kiosks set up for video and audio broadcasts. The parties present ranged anywhere from ABC and CNN to Hofstra’s own award winning radio station, WRHU.
I arrived around 11:30 a.m. and immediately I felt a rush of anticipation. The debate volunteers were beaming with excitement, following around their network supervisors like obedient little puppies and seeing their favorite news personalities walk through our Hofstra doors.
While volunteering I had the pleasure of observing multiple live broadcasts such as “America Live” with Megyn Kelly, and a segment for “The Insider” with Brooke Anderson. Many Hofstra students had the opportunity to witness live television production as MSNBC set up a stage outside of the Student Center and broadcasted “Hardball with Chris Matthews” for many hours leading up to the debate.
The value in volunteering was also the opportunity to speak with professionals in the business of television. The people I worked with had many words of wisdom to share and were equally interested in us as pre-professional students studying communication.
Even as the day progressed the energy never waivered. Sure, everyone was exhausted, and the coffee pots had long been emptied, but there was something undeniable about this day – the President of the United States was coming to Hofstra! Social media was blowing up all day long and “Hofstra” was trending on Twitter. We were full of Hofstra Pride.
When the debate started the Media Filing Center became very quiet as all the journalists and students gathered around the monitors at their stations. I kept thinking: Hey, that’s my school! I can’t believe this is happening!
The main action of the day for me occurred after the debate because Spin Alley is where the interviews are conducted to review the results of the debate and clarify policies and proposals stated by each candidate. Some attendees of Spin Alley included Political Consultant David Axelrod, Governor Martin O’Malley, Governor George Pataki, and Senator John Kerry. Journalists flooded the scene with their tape recorders and microphones, and many cameramen were sprinting across the room. It was a crazy sight!
All in all, the most valuable part of this experience was not what I did, but what I was able to do: I was given the opportunity to participate in history being made. I am very fortunate to have been able to observe everything that goes into a Presidential Debate, and even more, I am fortunate to have experienced a part of history at a pivotal time in our country.
I will never forget what it was like to walk from my dorm room, like any other day, to the site of the 2012 Presidential Debate. I am filled with an incredible amount of pride, loyalty, and gratitude to my school for fostering me in so many ways, and caring about the students enough to provide this opportunity and include us in this momentous occasion.