This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Villanova chapter.
This week was a whirlwind. The past four days in Cleveland contained more excitement – and demanded more energy – than I ever expected to devote to such a short period of time. And it all built up to that moment: when Business Mogul Donald J. Trump walked on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for the President of the United States.
So in a sea of reporters and delegates and secret service agents, where do I fit in? As a runner for the Republican National Committee’s Communications Team, I spent my week in nearly every corner of the convention’s campus between the Cleveland Indian’s home turf at Progressive Field and the Huntington Convention Center and the arena of reigning NBA champions the Cavaliers, known as The Q. My role was mainly to escort surrogates and speakers to various interviews and appearances. While the task may sound simple, some had five or six hits a day, many of which were on live television. We did not have a second to spare – which often became problematic when the surrogates’ admirers would stop and ask for pictures on the way from a radio hit on Media Row, where just about a hundred different media outlets were stationed, to a TV segment from a sky box in The Q. Though the days were long and often hectic, I got the opportunity to interact with some truly incredible Americans.
I started the week off with John “Tig” Tiegen, a survivor of the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He and his friend and fellow survivor Mark Geist spoke on Monday. The theme of the night was “Make America Safe Again”. The crowd was so responsive that the two went over their allotted speaking time, feeding off of the room’s enthusiasm and appreciation for their service. After his speech, I walked Tig to his hits on Media Row, where he also spoke with several unscheduled outlets eager to get some comments from one of the most high profile speakers from night one. Tig is a true American hero, but also a great guy and gentleman. When we were finally done with all of his interviews and it was time for me to move on to the next task, he thanked me by giving me a dog tag with the names of the four soldiers who lost their lives in Benghazi that night.
Wednesday, I had the privilege of escorting Astronaut Colonel Eileen Collins, who was the first female commander to pilot the Space Shuttle. She and her husband were in the Air Force before she began working for NASA. Before retiring in 2006, she logged over thirty-eight days in space. Col. Collins was incredibly appreciate of my help as I took her to her interviews and showed her around the convention. Having the opportunity to get to know her in person made watching her speech that night that much more rewarding. When we said goodbye, she and her husband gave me a limited edition patch from her last mission into space which describes the mission and lists the names of the astronauts who worked on it.
While my times with Tig and Col. Collins were particularly memorable, I also interacted with many others throughout the course of the week: Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and his daughter Ayla who sung the national anthem on the last night, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Congressman Buddy Carter of Georgia, Chris Soules of the Bachelor (yes, he’s a Republican!), College Republican National Committee Chairwoman Alex Smith, and Kerry Woolard of Trump Winery. On the last night, I somehow ended up in a seat three rows in front of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s suite, where he sat next to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarty. One suite over was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Naturally, I took a few selfies with them in the background.)
Being in the arena to hear the reactions to Donald Trump’s speech and feel the energy of the American people is an experience you cannot have watching from your couch and home. Though the hours were long and sleep was hard to come by, I feel so lucky to have been able to play a role in the convention, no matter how small. I hope that in four years I will be back at the next Republican National Convention, once again doing my part to put a member of the Grand Old Party in the White House.