DECA Members Experience the Republican & Democratic National Conventions Thanks to #DECAATTProject

As part of the #DECAATTProject, DECA members from Ohio and Pennsylvania had a unique opportunity to participate in watch parties hosted by AT&T during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia, respectively.

Three DECA members shared their experiences at the watch parties, as well as what it means to have a political convention happen in their city. Check out their insightful stories below!

Getting the Conversation Started at the 2016 RNC

Dajanae’ Holmes | North High School DECA | Akron, Ohio

Twenty DECA members from North High School and Cleveland Heights High School (Ohio) had the incredible opportunity to take a trip to Cleveland for the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) through our participation in the #DECAATTProject.

This trip gave DECA members the opportunity to listen to, and pick the brains of, some pretty successful people, one of them being Dr. Thomas C. Sutton. Dr. Sutton is a political science professor at Baldwin Wallace University, who spoke to our group about the election process and the purpose of the convention.

"It is great how you guys have a class like DECA [to be a part of], because business is not really typical in most high schools, so it’s providing you guys with great exposure,” Dr. Sutton said during his presentation.

Another wonderful speaker with whom I had the pleasure of speaking to was Tania Thomas, President of the Women of AT&T – Northeast Ohio Chapter, an AT&T Employee Resource Group. We discussed how big of a deal hosting the Republican National Convention was to Cleveland.

“It is a great conversation starter about politics for the people of Cleveland, and it’s also great for raising awareness of the need to be involved in civic proceedings,” Mrs. Thomas said.

Overall, the RNC Watch Party was a nice experience for me and my fellow classmates to dip a toe in the vast ocean of politics, and a few of us even found an interest to continue following the rest of the election!

DECA Goes Behind the Scenes at the 2016 DNC

Nikos Papanikolau | George Washington High School DECA | Philadelphia, Penn.

The #DECAATTProject has been a truly inspiring experience for not only myself, but also my fellow DECA members. The various engaging activities and informational trips throughout the past few years have been absolutely stellar; but of course, leave it to AT&T to take an amazing experience to the next level with the 2016 Democratic National Convention Watch Party.

The event was well organized with fascinating and empowering speakers that I would never have expected to have the chance to interact with otherwise. Councilman Allan Domb, for example, was able to connect to us on a personal level as Philadelphians and inspired us to be ambitious. We also heard from Mr. Joe Grace, Vice President of State & Local Advocacy for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, who was a very effective communicator putting forth thought-provoking questions and offering unbiased views that certainly opened our eyes on the presidential election. The guest speakers were spectacular and never lost our undivided attention with their eloquent speeches.

The #DECAATTProject mentors have an exceptional ability to connect with us DECA members. During the DNC speeches, we were given bingo cards with various patriotic pictures and keywords on them, and if we were able to fill out our entire board, we'd win a prize! I thought this was an ingenious way to keep us focused on the content of the speeches while also making it fun and engaging. I never would have thought a national political convention could be so intriguing and entertaining simultaneously!

Overall, the DNC and RNC Watch Parties that AT&T held for us were very enlightening events that definitely made the election experience much more important to me and my peers. Unfortunately, many of us will not be old enough to vote in November, however, the experience encouraged us to pay more attention to not only national politics, but also to get involved in local politics.

Just a few months ago, we held a voter registration drive at our school (George Washington High School in Philadelphia) and we were able to register almost 50 people!

I must thank AT&T for this surge in awareness and eagerness to take part in our democratic system. Thank you AT&T for all that you do for DECA, as well as for us students. We are very grateful for your generosity and support.

AT&T’s support of DECA is part of the company’s signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, which aims to help more students succeed in school and beyond. To learn more about the project between DECA and AT&T Aspire, follow #DECAATTProject on Twitter. 

Follow DECA on Twitter @DECAInc, and AT&T at @ATT and @ConnecttoGood.

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