Where Are They Now?
Akeem Mellis '10
Journalism and Political Science
Akeem was chairman of the Hofstra College Republicans from 2007-2008, and participated in many of the events sponsored as part of the University's Educate '08 debate-related programming. He was among a group of students who traveled that year to New Hampshire for Super Tuesday and during the debate, he volunteered with the campaign of Republican John McCain. Today, he is the Finance and Communications Director for the congressional campaign of Frank Scaturro, who is the Conservative Party candidate for New York's 4th Congressional District, which represents parts of Nassau County, Long Island.
Describe your experience as a student in 2008 in the months and weeks before Hofstra hosted the third and final presidential debate.
Going into that year, I was someone who was already involved and took a big interest in politics, so I jumped at the chance to get involved in Educate '08. I went to New Hampshire. I saw the candidates speak, and I saw the Super Tuesday returns. I got to witness democracy first-hand. On Debate Day, I volunteered for the McCain campaign in the Media Center – I did rapid reaction, responding to different issues raised in the debate. We ran up and down 15 rows of tables of media, handing out to members of the national press different talking points addressing what was being said in the debate. The entire experience of Debate Day was a culmination of all the events Hofstra put together for students. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
How did your experience as a student in 2008 prepare you for what you do now?
It broadened my horizons. I wanted to cover politics as a journalist, but from my experience during the debate, I realized I could do more than just cover politics, and be involved in other ways. Practically, I saw how certain things worked – I'm working in a congressional campaign now, but there are a lot of similar experiences in terms of what to do, how you interact with the candidate, working within the campaign structure itself. Volunteering for McCain during the debate was a launch pad for understanding what can happen on campaigns.
What would you say to students who will be on campus for the 2012 presidential debate?
It's an unparalleled experience and it's a really great way to get involved in the political process. Regardless of if you agree or disagree with what's happened in the past four years, it's obvious we need to be involved in this process. Whatever I do in politics or journalism in the future, I can look back at Educate '08 and the debate and say, you know I made a turn for the better, I went down this path and I have no regrets. I will never forget it and I envy those students who are living the experience on campus today. I would say it was the best time I had at Hofstra.