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Student Sean Meloy Honored to Attend the Democratic National Convention

Article about College of Education senior Sean Meloy serving as an alternate delegate at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

by Joe Savrock (September 2008)

DSCN1582.jpgUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Sean Meloy was thrilled to fulfill one of his biggest aspirations: to be part of the Pennsylvania delegation at the Democratic National Convention.

Meloy, a College of Education senior, served as an alternate delegate at the Democrats’ highly visible national event, held this past August in Denver. “It was an exhilarating experience, being at the focal point of history and the center of attention of the entire country,” he says. “It was constant action, constant fun, and all based around politics and the Democratic Party—two things I live for.”

Meloy is double majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education and Political Science. He also is working toward a minor in History. His coursework reflects a strong interest in American politics that he displayed as a student at Hampton High School in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. “I started a Young Democrats group there for the 2004 election,” he says.

After enrolling at Penn State, Meloy joined the College Democrats, a student organization that takes an active role in encouraging political awareness. Meloy worked his way up through the College Democrats, first becoming the organization’s treasurer and now serving as its president.

Me with Bill Clinton.jpgThe process to become a delegate was straightforward. “Early on in the primary, I sent a pledge form to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party saying that I supported Hillary Clinton and would like to run to be a delegate for her,” says Meloy. “I got a call from her campaign asking if I would like to run as an alternate delegate, which in itself is a great honor for someone my age—I was not expecting anything at all.”

In order to have his name placed on the ballot for the April 22 primary election, Meloy had to submit a petition containing at least 250 signatures from registered Democrats in the 5th Congressional District. Despite frigid January temperatures, he canvassed neighborhoods in the district and collected the required 250 names.

In the primary, Meloy received more votes than his Barack Obama counterpart. Thus he was elected to attend the convention—but as an alternate, he could vote only in the event of another delegate’s illness or incapacitation.

“I was truly honored to be asked, and then elected, to go to the convention,” Meloy says. “It was the experience of a lifetime.”

Meloy attended a preliminary event—the College Democrats of America Convention, a gathering of students involved in College Democrats chapters on campuses nationwide. “There was a wonderful set of speakers,” he said. “We talked about how much the next President will affect our lives when we leave school.”

Once the main convention started, Meloy’s schedule remained full. He and other Pennsylvania elected officials and party officials attended most events as a group. Every morning the group attended a delegation breakfast, where they heard general announcements and listened to party speakers. Among the prominent speakers were Gov. Ed Rendell, Sen. Robert Casey, State Democratic Chairman T.J. Rooney, Vice Presidential nominee Joe Biden, and various U.S. and state representatives.

“We would then usually go to speaker presentations, caucus meetings, or delegation parties before heading to the Pepsi Center for the actual convention in the evening,” related Meloy.

“I got to meet and see many important figures in our country’s government and the Democratic Party,” continued Meloy. “Many of them were very approachable.” Among the notables he met were Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer—“a great speaker,” says Meloy—and cable television newscasters Chris Matthews, Anderson Cooper, and Paul Begala.

Meloy had “mixed feelings” about Hillary Clinton’s motion and the subsequent move to suspend the state roll call and put Obama’s nomination to a vote by acclimation. “As an ardent Clinton supporter, I felt that her delegates should have been able to cast their full vote in order to have a number for the history books,” he says. “However, I also see why she called for the vote by acclimation, for there have been people who have been slow to get on the Obama bandwagon, and we all need to stand behind our party’s nominee.”

Meloy hopes to see increased student participation on Election Day. “This election is very important to all students, whether they be in college or any other level," he says. "This decision will affect us the rest of our lives.”