Diversity and Democracy

Overcoming Our Distance for Election Night

As a student in Mary Baldwin College’s Adult Degree Program (ADP), I take classes either online or at a satellite campus office in Roanoke, Virginia, about ninety miles south of the main campus in Staunton. While the ADP is an important part of Mary Baldwin, the average ADP student has very little interaction with the Staunton campus community and generally misses out on the cultural and relational aspects of a traditional college experience. But in fall 2012, through my political science class, I had an opportunity to work with students from the main campus on developing and producing Mary Baldwin’s Election Live Broadcast.

Over the course of the fall semester, our team used e-mail, social media, and Blackboard to overcome our distance while developing a theme and researching topics for the broadcast. I felt connected to the other students from the beginning and quickly realized how engaged the group was. The enthusiasm of our professor, Laura van Assendelft, was contagious, but the project was our broadcast. It wasn’t developed or scripted for us; it was ours to build and ours to present.

On election night, I went to the Staunton campus to work in the broadcast newsroom. I was amazed by the experience. As a woman in her forties, I was struck by how knowledgeable the traditional students in their early twenties were, and how passionate about the project. These students were technologically savvy, and they knew the impact that either candidate might have if elected. Socially engaged and civically minded, they wanted to have a voice in the direction of the nation. I wish I had been more like them at that age.

Civic engagement is a core value of Mary Baldwin College. Projects like this one give that concept life in a way that students of any age, race, religion, ethnicity, or political viewpoint can relate to and be part of. The team was professional and committed to producing a quality broadcast, working together despite strong and varying opinions on social issues, the state of the economy, gun control, and the country’s relationship with other nations.

I would like to see an interactive project like this become a requirement for every online student. It not only enhanced my college experience, but also made me feel connected to the college and its history. It also drove me to be more aware of what each candidate stands for. I have always been committed to voting, but for the first time, I am eager to help with a political campaign or volunteer at the polls. I want to become more civically engaged, and I encourage those around me to do likewise.

For more on Mary Baldwin College's Election Live Broadcast, see Laura van Assendelft's article in this issue of Diversity & Democracy.

Marie Lavinder Greer is a student at Mary Baldwin College and a senior professional in human resources.

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