Springfield, Ohio — For Hannah Johnson, Wittenberg University class of 2009 from Milwaukee, Wisc., the first week of the 2008-09 school year was perhaps the most educational of her collegiate career.
The fact that it was spent in Denver, Colo., and not at Wittenberg, is evidence again of the university's emphasis on experiential learning. The passionate supporter of Illinois Senator Barack Obama's historic presidential campaign learned a great deal while attending the Democratic National Committee Convention (DNCC) from Aug. 24-29.
"It was such a memorable experience, including meeting Ohio Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher and seeing Senator Hillary Clinton and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland at a health care forum," said Johnson, who was a delegate to the College Democrats of America Convention, which ran concurrently with the DNCC in Denver. "I also got to see a screening of the new documentary film by Lee Fisher's son, Jason, called Swing State about Governor Strickland's bid for governor in 2006. It was really enlightening."
Johnson, the president of Wittenberg's College Democrats and the secretary of the Ohio College Democrats, is not the prototypical political activist. A double major in psychology and biochemistry/molecular biology, her career plans include working in the field of embryology and eventually attending medical school after graduating from Wittenberg.
While her academic pursuits are atypical, Johnson doesn't rule out running for political office of some type in the future. She was inspired by a speech by former Vermont Governor Madeline Kunin, the first female governor of that state, who spoke at the DNC women's caucus and gave Johnson a signed copy of her book titled Pearls, Politics and Power.
Part of Kunin's message was that America needs more young female leaders.
"I had always thought about running for office, but after hearing so many inspirational women speak at the caucus in Denver it got me thinking about it more than ever," Johnson said. "I got to meet so many different people with so many different viewpoints who had all come together to share an experience at the convention and to achieve a common goal.
"I'm so happy to have gotten the opportunity. It's something I'll never forget, and it is something that has inspired me to become even more active in the future."
With the Nov. 4 general election fast approaching, Johnson has big plans. Both the Wittenberg College Democrats and the Ohio College Democrats are organizing voter registration drives. At Wittenberg, Johnson is planning campus canvases to educate students on the issues and is organizing efforts to provide transportation to the polls for students on Election Day.
Written By: Ryan Maurer