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Junior Fellows Blog From Trip

Today@Sam is following the SHSU Political Science Junior Fellows as they travel through the midwest. The members and their adviser will blog throughout the course of the four-day trip, describing their experiences as they reach their ultimate destination, the American Association of Political Consultants Conference in Akron, Ohio.

Previous posts:


Day 4: Sunday, Nov. 20

Cameron Goodman

The start of our last day began with a visit to Kent State University. We had traveled there to see the site of the 1970 Kent State conflict. The site featured a modest monument to the four fallen students and those wounded, and it was interesting to see the location firsthand after hearing so many stories and reading about the history of the incident.

(Above) Cameron Goodman, on the stairs of the home featured in his favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Story, and (below) standing next to the leg made famous in the movie.

We left Kent State and drove to Brandywine Falls. The view was outstanding, and I am glad that we went out of our way to be able to see it. The only regret I had was attempting to climb up a slippery section of a steep rock for a picture and then clumsily falling. It was well worth the climb to see the falls, but I endured a slight limp the rest of the day—and also endured taunts from other Junior Fellows, as well as our Junior, Junior Fellow, Ryan Brim.

Our next stop was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame situated in down town Cleveland on the edge of Lake Erie. We were greeted by two giant guitars in honor of John Lennon and George Harrison and cars from U2’s Zoo TV Tour. Even with a bad knee, I started my tour of the Hall off on the right foot by going straight to the section on the Beatles. It was incredible to see hand-written song lyrics and notes, actual outfits worn for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and other personal belongings. The entire museum was filled to the brim with pieces of rock history. One of the other interesting features of the museum was being able to see the handwritten names of inductees on the wall of the Hall of Fame. Seeing personal favorites like Neil Young, Roger Waters, and the Beatles on the wall was a great experience. I know that I had previously blogged about how the Football Hall of Fame was far and away the coolest museum I had been to, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gave it a serious run for its money.

Owing to time constraints, I left the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame early so that I could visit one more destination: The Christmas Story House. Like many other red blooded Americans, I grew up watching A Christmas Story religiously every holiday season. It is my favorite Christmas movie and it has become a tradition of sorts in the Goodman household to watch it every Christmas, sometimes even multiple times. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to say that I was extremely excited to be able to visit the actual house from the movie. To make things even more exciting, the group had waited until I was inside to house to let me know that Ian Petrella, the actor who played Randy in the movie, was at the house to talk to visitors and sign autographs. We talked to “Randy” and even had the chance to take pictures with the notorious lamp. I’m not proud to admit it, but there may be a day when a picture of me surfaces in which I’m wearing the bunny ears made famous by Ralphie at the end of the movie. All in all, the house and museum was an amazing stop, and I will always remember it during the holiday season when I watch the beloved movie.

The entire trip has been a thrill and I feel that I have learned a lot about political consulting, modern art, history, and America’s heartland in general. I am ready to get back to the Lone Star State, but I hope to make it back up to the Midwest in the future and learn even more about these great states.

I’m also particularly grateful that the Bliss Institute offers such a conference. The conference was the central part of the trip, and their “outreach” subsidy allowed me the opportunity to have such a wonderful time. I’m also appreciative of KBTX, Today @ Sam, and The Huntsville Item for publishing our blogs.

Dana Angello

Today was a much more relaxing day than the previous three. I am, however, still exhausted, owing to three days of non-stop action and a final day that involved visits to Kent State University, Brandywine Falls, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Ryan Brim at the Kent State Memorial.

At Kent State we visited the memorial for the four students who were fatally shot on May 4, 1970 in the midst of student protests against the Vietnam War. The memorial was not particularly imposing, but it is working on a trail that will highlight important spots on campus related to the shooting as well as a visitors’ center that will act as a mini-museum for the time period.

Following our Kent State visit, we went to a less somber place, Brandywine Falls, where I enjoyed the peaceful and gorgeous waterfalls while taking pictures.

We then headed to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We only had a couple hours to roam the six-floor building, but I managed to get through everything. By far, my favorite part of the museum was a special exhibit entitled “Elvis 1956: Photographs by Alfred Wertheimer.” There were some candid photos which I found fascinating. My favorite photo was set in Elvis’ living room. The musician had just gotten out of the shower so he still had his shirt off and his hair was still messed up. He was lounging in a chair while his high-school girlfriend listened intently to his recording from the day before. No doubt, he was looking for her critique of his music. It is so unusual to see someone so famous in a relaxed state. According to the exhibit, this was the only time in Elvis’ short life when a photographer was allowed such personal access.

The rest of the Hall of Fame was fantastic, too! They had another special exhibit on Bruce Springsteen where he had donated copious memorabilia, including the notebooks in which he wrote lyrics and jotted down ideas for his albums. The rest of the museum outlined the progression of Rock and Roll and paid tribute to the many artists who have contributed to the genre.

Now, we’re off to Detroit for our flight home. I’m so excited to sleep in my own bed tonight and maybe even get more than five hours of sleep. At the same time, I’m not looking forward to getting back to the daily grind of class and homework. This trip has been an incredible experience. I have learned so much about political campaigns, history, art, and music and have developed closer relationships. I already can’t wait for our big trip next semester, whenever and wherever that will be.


The Junior Fellows outside of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Daywalt


Brandywine Falls, a 65 foot waterfall outside of Akron, Ohio.

Unfortunately this will be my final blog for this trip.

On our “long goodbye” to Ohio, our first stop of the day was Kent State University. Unlike SHSU, the campus is spread out, dispersed, I would think, to the point of annoyance for students. We also saw numerous black squirrels, apparently Kent State’s unofficial mascot. Most important we visited the site memorializing the four students who died in the May 4, 1970 protests of the Vietnam War. It was an humbling experience.

Afterward we stopped at Brandywine Falls. The waterfall was soothing and peaceful and worth the stop. According to the park, the 60-foot waterfall was at least 350-400 million years old
In my blog yesterday, I indicated that the Pro Football Hall of Fame was the best museum I had ever visited. Well, it’s hard to admit, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be better yet. The place was amazing!

My first semester at Sam Houston State I took a History of Rock and Roll class which greatly enhanced my experience. The museum had everything from guitars to apparel, cars, and historical information. An interesting thing I learned while at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was that Elvis Presley seemed to be obsessed with becoming a police officer. He was made an honorary police officer or Sheriff’s Deputy in countless departments including the Los Angeles Police Department and Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. And after being sworn in, he was able to get badges for inner circle—just months after being “deputized” himself.

The only downside to the museum is that I couldn’t find any exhibits of my favorite band, the Eagles. They were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999, but there wasn’t information on them in the Museum. I was, however, able to buy Hotel California—on a vinyl album—in the gift shop. I don’t have a record player, but the album will look nice on my wall.

It will be another long night; we won’t get back to Huntsville until after midnight. And we’ll still have classes early tomorrow, but I loved the trip, the experience, and the people. We got along great, had an amazing time, and learned much more than I expected. Thanks to everyone who followed along in our blogs!

Ryan Brim


Ian Petrella, the actor that played Randy (the little brother) in A Christmas Story, with Cameron Goodman and Ryan Brim.

I think today was the most memorable day of the trip. I know it was the last.

We began by going to Kent State University, where four kids were killed while they were protesting the Vietnam War.

After that, we went to Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which was very cool. It was much bigger, louder, and more awesome than Chagrin Falls, the waterfall we saw on Friday.

We all went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. They had guitars and costumes of famous artists such as Elvis, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. It was pretty cool, but not as cool as the final stop of the day.

My mom, Cameron, and Mike visited the house from A Christmas Story. Today, Ian Petrella, who played Randy in the movie, was there, signing autographs and taking photographs. I got a signed photograph and shirt, and I also took numerous pictures reenacting scenes from the movie. It, along with the Carnegie Science Museum, were my favorite stops on the trip.

I am sad to be leaving, but I am happy that I was invited. The Bliss Institute allowed me to attend along with more than 250 college students. It was cool to be there with older people. They knew more about the stuff than I did, but I had as much as fun everyone else.

Mike Yawn

Over their four-day trip, the students attended an all-day professional conference on politics, visited 25 different educational sites, and travelled across four states.

In discussing the trip with the students, the most popular exhibits were the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Christmas Story House, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the conference, the most popular seminar related to prospects for the 2012 presidential race, and there was a three-way tie among Greek, Soul, and Italian for favorite food.

As far as surprises, the students seemed to really enjoy the Duquesne Incline, a tram that travels 400 feet up Mount Washington at a 30 degree angle. The students were also surprised when they visited the house from A Christmas Story and found that Ian Petrella, the actor that played “Randy” in the movie, was greeting visitors and signing autographs.

There weren’t a lot of disappointments, although there was a general consensus that the Motown Historical Museum and the Kent State Memorial were not all that they could be. Kent State University, it should be noted, is in the process of building a museum that will educate citizens on the events surrounding the tragedy.

Since the organization’s inception in 2005, the Political Science Junior Fellows have travelled on 12 major field trips spanning 19 states and Washington, DC. They are currently planning their spring trip.

I would like to thank the Bliss Institute for generously subsidizing the cost of each student to attend the conference; the panelists at the American Association of Political Consultants for offering their guidance and sharing their insight with students; and The Huntsville Item, Today @ Sam, and KBTX for allowing the students to share their experiences.


Day 3: Saturday, Nov. 20


The junior fellows' first day-three stop was at the McKinley Memorial in Canton, Ohio.


John Daywalt

This morning started off great with a surprise not long after I woke up. A sausage, egg, and cheese McGriddle from McDonalds courtesy of Stephanie. I must admit I am a McDonald’s addict.

Our first stop today was President William McKinley’s Library, Museum, and Memorial in Canton, Ohio. I cannot recall ever having been to a President’s Library or Museum before. The museum mostly included items from Stark County—the county in which Canton is located. There was an old fire truck from the early 1900s which really stuck out. We even got to slide down a fire station pole. After the museum we went and visited the memorial which Pres. McKinley, his wife Ida, and two daughters are interred.

Mock field at Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Also in Canton is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This place was amazing, probably the best museum I’ve ever been to! This museum included the history of football, a history of all 32 teams, all the inductees of the Hall of Fame, and a new gallery covering the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl gallery was my favorite. It even included the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy and a super bowl ring from every Super Bowl.

We ate at a local restaurant called Arcadia Grill in Canton for lunch where I had a pretty good Sloppy Joe sandwich with chips. One thing unique about this place is that it had oversized business cards on the ceiling for ceiling tiles which I’d never seen before.

On our way to Pittsburgh I slept through the Dean Martin stops we made. And surprisingly we actually ran into West Virginia by accident, pulled over and got our feet on the ground to make it official. Yes that’s correct; instead of us just visiting three states in four days we made it four states: Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. I told the group we should just go for it all and make it over the border to Canada just to make it an international trip.

Once we made it to Pittsburgh a group of us went to the Andy Warhol Museum. Before today I knew who he was and had heard his name before, but I got to see a lot of his work today from paintings on canvas to films and his television show. I still do not really care for him too much. He was just a little too out there for me.

Evidence that we are in Amish Country.

Then we all met back up to go to the Cathedral of Learning. Let me just say this gothic revival style building is absolutely enormous. Not many other words could describe it. I joked around and said if the building was cut down and made into one two-story building it would cover the entire Sam Houston State University campus.

This evening we ate at a local Italian pizza restaurant, Aiellos Pizzeria, in the famous Squirrel Hill area. Cameron and I both ate Philly Cheese Steaks. We figured this would be our best shot at getting a real Philly Cheese Steak for a very long time so why not, even if we weren’t quite in Philadelphia. This Philly Cheese Steak came in foot-long Italian bread like at Subway, but completely filled me up after just eating half of it. I couldn’t believe how great it tasted!

We ended our evening in Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Incline. This incline took us up to side of a large hill overlooking the city of Pittsburgh and the three rivers that meet up, which are the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela. The view was magnificent!

Tomorrow we’ll be stopping at a waterfall and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame amongst other things including flying back to Texas.

Cameron Goodman

Daywalt, Angello and Goodman outside the Andy Warhol Museum.

The first stop of our third day in the Midwest was the McKinley Presidential Museum. The museum was different from any other presidential museum I have visited in that they did not enjoy the benefit of being left with a large supply of personal belongings or artifacts of the President. The museum more than made up for this by creating exhibits that showed what life was like in America, and more specifically Stark County Ohio, during the time of McKinley’s presidency. The museum actually created a small town inside of the museum complete with storefronts and even a firehouse containing a fire engine from the period. As our tour came to a close we then walked to the nearby McKinley Monument located on the same grounds. The monument, which is the final resting place of President McKinley and his wife Ida, was a grand structure that consisted of over 2,000,000 bricks. We paid our respects and moved onward to one of my most anticipated stops of the trip.

As I walked into the Football Hall of Fame we were welcomed by the sight of dozens of fans wearing jerseys representing their respective teams from across the nation who had come to visit the Mecca of football. The museum was simply amazing and did a great job of tracing football’s rise to America’s number one sport, starting with its simple roots. There were so many amazing pieces of football history from the jerseys of football greats like Joe Namath and Barry Sanders to an amazing collection of Super Bowl Rings. The single greatest part of the museum was being able to see the Vince Lombardi trophy in person. It was a great experience. I came in with very high expectations and I left with them all being surpassed.

After leaving the Football Hall of Fame, we found a small restaurant inside of Canton called Arcadia’s Grille. The food was good but the most interesting part of the meal was our server who ruled her kitchen with an iron fist and sounded a bit like a bad Adam Sandler impersonation. Despite her loud bark we heard coming from the kitchen, she was actually a sweet woman who served up a great Italian meal.

We left our hostess behind and moved to the Andy Warhol Museum. I am definitely not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the world of modern art but I was actually pretty excited to learn more about the iconic American artist. One of the most interesting aspects of the museum was that the main exhibit was on Marilyn Monroe because the Junior Fellows recently put on a Marilyn Monroe film festival. The exhibit featured works by Warhol himself as well as other artists who captured her career from its early stages until her untimely death. I will say that some of Warhol’s work was a bit out there, but there is no denying the impact that he had on the same American culture.

Pittsburgh at 11 p.m.

We kept the educational theme going with our next stop at the Cathedral of Learning located at the University of Pittsburgh. As we approached the building I was taken aback by the sheer size of the building and the fact that it looked like a hybrid of a gothic cathedral and a skyscraper. As I walked inside the first thing that crossed my mind, being the nerd that I am, was that it looked like we had just been transported to Hogwarts and that any moment I would see Harry Potter running through the commons area. The cathedral featured rooms based on various nationalities from around the world and throughout history, all the way from Austria to Wales.

For dinner we went to Aiellos Pizzeria. I took the opportunity to get a cheese steak, knowing that this would be the closest I would get to a real deal Philadelphia cheese steak for a long time. It put every cheese steak I have ever had to shame.

We worked off our dinner walking around Squirrel Hill and then went to the final destination of the day. As we pulled up to the Duquesne Incline night was falling over Pittsburgh. We paid for our tickets and boarded the electric cable car which took us up Mount Washington. The view of the city was incredible and it was a very relaxing way to end our busy day in Pittsburgh.

Dana Angello

The Junior Fellows overlooking the City of Pittsburgh.

12:50—We got somewhat of a late start this morning—mostly because the guys wouldn’t get up—but we eventually got energized with our not-so-healthy breakfasts from McDonalds. Soon, we were off to Canton for a visit to the McKinley Presidential Museum.

The Museum was not was I was expecting, though I enjoyed the parts that I toured. It was a combination of Stark County’s history, science exhibits, a planetarium and just a small section about the McKinleys.

Unfortunately, we were short on time, so we mainly looked through the history of Stark County. It was fascinating, though, to see how the steel, locomotive, and the medical industries were the livelihood of the town. McKinley’s presence in the community also had an impact, even before he became President. During the Civil War McKinley fought in the same regiment as President Rutherford B. Hayes. Also, he was a great leader in the community as a prosecuting attorney, the YMCA president, and a Congressman before running for president.

After the museum, we decided it was time for lunch and went to a small restaurant called Arcadia Grille. The food was decent, but the waiter was incredibly entertaining. She was slightly grumpy and we could hear her arguing with the kitchen staff from our table. When Professor Yawn asked if he could get mushrooms on his spaghetti she said, “Sure! Anything’s possible, but you’re gonna pay for it!”

What Daywalt would have seen if he hadn't been asleep: the Dean Martin Mural is located in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.

11:00—It’s been nearly eleven hours since I last wrote and there is so much more to write about. We drove through Steubenville, the home town of Dean Martin, and saw a mural with members of the Rat Pack as well as a mural symbolizing that Ohio was the passageway into the West. We also passed by an operating steel mill, which was the first one most of us had seen and the first one I remember seeing. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I only saw dormant steel mills on a daily basis.

Once we got to Pittsburgh, Stephanie, Ryan & Professor Yawn went to the Carnegie Science Center while Cameron, John & I stopped at the Andy Warhol Museum which was featuring a special exhibit on Marilyn Monroe. Apparently, the legendary actress is the Junior Fellows theme of the semester because she was also the subject of our Film Festival just a couple weeks ago. My nieces met us there and were able to walk the exhibit with us, although I’m not sure some of it was appropriate for them to see. I was surprised to see so many nude photos of the actress! Nevertheless, the exhibit was fascinating.

Once the museum closed and we finally got our GPS working, we visited the Cathedral of Learning, a gothic revival building on the University of Pittsburgh campus. The building is so magnificent it is almost impossible to describe except to say that it is almost like walking into a castle. The wrought iron railings, stone walls, and dimmed lighting provide an excellent historic atmosphere. The building holds great memories for me because I recall spending much time in the empty classrooms playing school while my mom was attending graduate school classes at the University of Pittsburgh. I enjoyed spending time in the building again and seeing from the perspective of someone admiring the architecture.

The First Ladies Museum in Canton, Ohio.

The next leg of our time in Pittsburgh was definitely the best part of my trip! (No offense to my fellow travelers.) I had dinner with my sister and her husband at Spaghetti Warehouse. That’s right, I broke the “no chain restaurant” rule, but I had a blast doing it. I hadn’t seen the two of them in over four years, so it was great to catch up and take some pictures with them. Plus, I got a black and gold balloon hat, which I am hoping to manage getting on the plane without popping!

After dinner, the three of us said goodbye and I met up with the Junior Fellows once again. We topped off our day trip to Pittsburgh with a trip up the Duquesne Incline on Mount Washington. The ride provided a gorgeous view of the city. The most picturesque was the Christmas tree at The Point, where the three rivers (Ohio, Allegheny & Monongahela) converge and the way it reflected in the water. The sky line and the lit-up buildings are gorgeous by themselves, and the Christmas tree was a welcomed bonus.

And that’s how it got to be 11 o’clock. I am exhausted and ready to take a short nap in the car during the two-hour drive back to our hotel in Akron. Then, tomorrow I will be ready for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the flight back to Houston.

Ryan Brim

Ryan Brim posing with the "Robot Hall of Fame."

Today was the best time that I have had in Pittsburgh. Well, the only time I’ve ever had in Pittsburgh. It was the best time I’ve had on the trip.

First thing in the morning we went to the William McKinley [Presidential] Museum in Canton, OH, which was very cool because it had many artifacts of his life and presidency.

Then we drove down to Pittsburgh, but on the way we accidentally ended up driving through West Virginia, making this a four-state trip. When we arrived in Pittsburgh, I went to the [Carnegie] Science Museum, which was really cool. They had an exhibit on robot technology and there were lots of very interactive exhibits.

Finally, our day ended with a ride up the Duquesne Incline, and I took some really cool photos and videos of the Carnegie Science Museum, Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers), and a gigantic Christmas tree [in Point State Park].

I am sad to say that tomorrow is our last day, but I am looking forward to seeing Brandywine Falls.


A funeral home operator with a sense of humor.


Day 2: Friday, Nov. 19

Ryan Brim

Brim with a statue of a cat, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

My second day began with some much-needed sleep. I slept like a rock—that is if rocks sleep. My day began at 9:30, so that I could prepare for my conference which began at 10:30 am.

While there, I learned different ways of campaigning for votes and how costly campaigns can be. I also learned that you should know how and where voters get their information from.

I also visited Chagrin Falls. At first we went to the wrong side of the bridge, where we found a park and a smaller waterfall. But then we went to the other side and saw a much larger waterfall. It was interesting and cool. While there, we ate at a restaurant called Yours Truly, which was truly pretty good. I had the fried cod. Fridays are “Frydays” at their restaurant.

The best time that I had today was at the Museum of Art in Cleveland. It had a lot of paintings and sculptures that I have never seen. My three favorite paintings or sculptures were: “The Boat Docks,” “An Artist,” and a replica of “The Thinker.”

My mom tells me tomorrow is going to be a longer day than today, so I am hoping I can get some sleep tonight.

Signing off at midnight, Ryan Brim.


Ryan and Stephanie Brim at Chagrin Falls, Ohio.


John Daywalt

Let me start off by saying today was great and I really enjoyed the conference! Luckily, this morning started off a little later than yesterday. Once again we had a fully loaded day, but this time mostly with panel discussions that lasted from 9:00 am through 5:30 pm, followed by the Cleveland Art Museum and dinner at a Soul Food restaurant.

The painting "On a Terrace," by Ernest Meissonnier, at the Cleveland Museum in Arts, one of the Junior Fellows' many stops.

The first seminar, which was also my favorite, was titled “Winning Campaigns, Campaigning 101.” The first speaker was Dr. Michael Burton, an associate professor of political science from Ohio University. He gave a brief overview of message targeting. He offered his “Top Ten Tips” for targeting, which he analogized to algebra. His best advice was tip number ten, which admonished students to “Learn from the best.” Of course this is true for anything in life. I thought Dr. Burton was the best speaker of any panel, but the other panels (and panelists) were also interesting, covering grassroots, behavioral science, what makes voters go out to vote, and the McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign.

Interestingly, the conference was set up such that each of the students were able to have lunch with a campaign “mentor.” My mentor was Dr. Whit Ayres, who is the President of Ayres, McHenry & Associates, and also President of the American Association of Political Consultants—the organization hosting the conference. We discussed everything from our future goals to his work experience, the latter mostly involving his recent work with Senator-Elect Marco Rubio.

This evening we went to the Cleveland Museum in Arts. I don’t know a lot about art, but there were a few names I recognized, and I learned a new one, too: Lovis Corinth. His “Self Portrait with Hat and Coat,” completed in 1915, was my favorite.

We finished off the night at a new Cleveland soul food restaurant called Zanzibar. After experimenting with some appetizers—soul rolls, catfish fingers, and artichoke and collard green dip—I had some tender and delicious pork chops.

We’ve got a lot planned tomorrow, but I’m most looking forward to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Dana Angello

Conference presenter Brad Chism, with Zata 3 Consulting.

Miraculously, I woke up on time this morning, despite being so exhausted last night. In fact, we even arrived early to the Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) conference, which was full of interesting panels, all having to do with political campaigns. There were quite a few successful panelists throughout the day—people from John McCain’s campaign, a former Oklahoma State Senator, presidents and founders of media and consulting firms, and various pollsters. In fact, one panelist was Ray Strother, who wrote the famous “Daisy” ad for Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1964. These panelists had worked for some important campaigns.

Lunch was designated as a “mentoring event.” The conference matched us by party affiliation and campaign interests with a campaign “mentor.” I ate lunch with fellow Democrats who were also interested in polling as well as a Democratic pollster from Global Strategy Group, Jeff Plaut. I was excited to hear what he had to say about the profession. Not surprisingly, the profession is fairly rigorous and has a high burn-out rate. He spoke about how difficult some clients can be and the difficulties of losing a campaign. But he also spoke about the exciting and interesting career of a pollster. Plaut promised to follow up with me, so perhaps I’ll be able to intern for the firm this summer.

My favorite panel of the day was titled “Ethical Speaking and Spending.” Former Oklahoma State Representative, Rick Farmer spoke about the importance of negative advertisements in a campaign, but he emphasized that the claims made in such ads must be documented and should not be false or misleading. Farmer had done research on the public opinion of negative ads. I was expecting to hear that the electorate hated negative ads, but Farmer said that voters do not mind negative advertising as long as the claims seem fair. Of course, what is fair and what is not is sometimes disputed. The other panelists continued the talk about ethics by essentially saying that voters have a right to know where the money is coming from and by knowing that all the information coming from a campaign is true.

Presenter John Hall, Grassroots Coordinator for the Mike DeWine for Ohio Campaign.

In all, I loved the conference, and the day went by quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to drive back to Cleveland to visit the Museum of Art. They had contemporary art all the way back to Picasso and Van Gogh. My favorite piece in the museum, though, was entitled “Lot’s Wife” by Anselm Kiefer. This postmodernist painting depicts an abandoned railroad and is surrounded by mud, rain puddles, and a dark cloudy sky. It was textured with all kinds of material such as dust and aluminum and truly gives the admirer the impression of looking down an old, neglected railroad following a big rain. The artist had been a survivor of the Holocaust and decided he would paint sites left empty by the Nazis in order to deal with the trauma he experienced. Not only is Kiefer a talented painter, but he was also a true hero who survived the torment of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Afterward, we went to a delightful neighborhood called Shaker’s Square and ate soul food at Zanzibar. The restaurant had only been opened for 20 days, but the chef did not have a lack of experience. We ate fried catfish fingers and a dip with collard greens and artichokes. The food was delicious and I’m sure the restaurant will be extremely successful!

What an exciting day we had and I’m gearing up for tomorrow when we drive to Pittsburgh. I’m looking forward to seeing the Andy Warhol Museum and to do some sightseeing in my hometown, but I am, by far, the most excited about seeing my big sister and her husband!

Day 1: Thursday, Nov. 18


The junior fellows stand on Woodward Avenue, where Martin Luther King, Jr., gave an early version of his "I Have a Dream" speech in June 1963.


Mike Yawn

Hi, I’m Mike Yawn, the Political Science Junior Fellows’ advisor. The students have just finished their first day of a four-day trip that will take them to a national political conference and three states. I’ll let the students tell their own stories, but I will be passing on some background and contextual information that may provide a broader perspective.

The students ended the day pretty tired. Their morning started—with one exception—at 2:30 am. They went to bed about 21 hours later. In between, they drove to Hobby Airport, flew to St. Louis, flew to Detroit, visited the Mariners Church of Detroit, the GM Headquarters, Woodward Avenue, the Wayne County Building, the Guardian Building, Greektown, the Motown Historical Museum, and the Rutherford B. Hayes Home and Museum.

The organization has undertaken about a dozen of these types of trips. Because financial and time constraints typically limit the number of days the students can spend away from school, they do extensive research on prospective destinations so that they can see as many sites as possible while still taking gaining a substantive appreciation of each venue. Here’s some background that came from their research and visits from Day One:

  • Guardian
    Inside the Guardian Building.
    Mariners Church of Detroit: This church was immortalized following the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior in 1975. The wreck, which resulted in the loss of twenty-nine crew members, received national attention. The church was immortalized however, in the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” which hit number 1 for Gordon Lightfoot in 1976. In the song, Lightfoot referred to the church as the “Maritime Sailors Cathedral.”
  • Martin Luther King gave an early version of his “I Have a Dream” speech on Woodward Avenue in June 1963.
  • The Wayne County Building is a magnificent Baroque structure that once served as the Wayne County Courthouse. Its construction was completed in 1902 at a then staggering sum of 1.6 million dollars. Henry Ford worked here in the early 1900s, and Clarence Darrow once defended a client in the building’s courthouse. By the 1970s, however, many county departments moved out of the building to save costs. Today, the building houses a small daycare center.
  • The Guardian Building was the most interesting structure we visited. It is more than 600 feet tall and was built in 1929. It originally housed many financial businesses, and was known as the “Cathedral of Commerce.” Today, it houses many Wayne County officials, who, interestingly, were once housed in the Wayne County Building.
  • Greektown: The Political Science Junior Fellows have a rule: they can’t eat at chain restaurants. On the first day of their trip, they ventured into to Greektown to find a restaurant. Greektown has approximately ten Greek restaurants in a 3-4 block stretch. The second oldest of these restaurants was Laikon Café, which opened in 1927. The students did a good job of trying and sharing different menu items, including three types of Greek lasagna, roasted lamb, spinach pie, hummus, babaghanoush, and tzatsiki.

Day Two Preview:

Tomorrow, the students will spend the bulk of the day at the American Association of Political Consultants Conference, attending panels on general campaign strategy, new media v. old media, ethics, and prospects for the 2012 presidential race. One of the more interesting aspects of the conference is that the students will have the opportunity to have lunch with a “campaign manager,” a campaign expert who has similar interests with each of the students and who may provide career guidance or networking opportunities. In addition, the students will see James Garfield’s home in Mentor, OH, Chagrin Falls, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.




Dana Angello

Dana AngelloHowdy! My name is Dana Angello and I am the Vice President of the Political Science Junior Fellows. I am so excited to take a four-day whirlwind trip to Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. And it all began this morning at 4:00 am when we left Huntsville for Houston in order to make our 6:30 flight to Detroit. The travel went surprisingly well, and I even was able to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while stretching out on the plane!

Once we got to Detroit, we were able to do some sightseeing. We visited the Mariners’ Church of Detroit, which commemorated 29 seamen who died when their ship wrecked after being caught in a storm on Lake Superior.

The wreck was made famous by Gordon Lightfoot, who paid tribute to the sailors and the surviving families. The church was a beautiful gothic structure that was originally built a couple of blocks from where it now sits. The relocation process was so significant, that traffic in the area stopped for twenty-one days! The church was magnificent, but I was also captivated by a statue of George Washington which was donated by the Free Masons of Detroit. The Mariners’ Church was a fantastic place to begin sightseeing.

Mariners' Church
Outside the Mariner's Church, one of the first sight-seeing trips in Detroit.

Once we had taken a significant number of pictures, Professor Yawn grew tired of my laments about how hungry I was, so we decided to find a place to eat. We made the long, very cold walk to Greektown and ate at Laikon, which has been serving delicious Greek food since the 1920s. Before this lunch, my Greek food experience only consisted of gyros, so I decided it was time to expand my knowledge of Greek food. It was a wise choice: the pastitsio, with lamb, macaroni, and a Greek sauce, provided to be just the ticket to satiating my growling stomach.

Once we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves, we drove to the Motown Historical Museum, the record company created by Barry Gordy. The museum was fairly interesting and it was certainly quite a feeling to stand in the studio where the likes of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson spent so many hours recording their groundbreaking albums. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr. even recorded his “I have a Dream” speech as well as his speech entitled “Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” in the very same studio where we were stood. It was exciting to learn about a company that paved the way for so many African-American musicians.

After our exploration of the Motown Era, we headed toward Cleveland to eat and sightsee, but not before our unsettling experience at a KFC where bullet-proof glass was protecting the workers behind the counter. We got out of there as soon as we could.

The more time we spent in the car on the way to Cleveland, the more excited I got about tomorrow. Most certainly, it will be a long day, but I can’t wait for the American Association of Political Consultants Conference in Akron. There are many great panelists, including high-level political consultants and university professors. But the education and fun will not stop there. After the conference, we will head back to Cleveland for the evening, eating at yet another intriguing restaurant and visiting the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Hopefully, tonight we will get enough rest and take our vitamins so that tomorrow we are ready and rearin’ to go for more fun!

Ryan Brim

Ryan Brim, outside the Mariner's Church.

Hello! My name is Ryan Brim and I’m the 11 year old “Junior-Junior Fellow,” as I am referred to by the Political Science Junior Fellows at Sam Houston State University. I am so ecstatic that I’m going on a four-day trip to three northern states: Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

My trip started with an early wakeup call around 3:15. From there, we drove to Hobby and boarded a plane to St. Louis and boarded another plane to Detroit.

While I was in Detroit, I visited the Mariners Church of Detroit, which honored twenty-nine men who died on the Edmund Fitzgerald. I also went to Greektown, where I ate a delicious roasted lamb sandwich with french fries. Finally, I visited the Motown Historical Museum which was not what I expected, although it was very informative.

My favorite thing today was probably my lunch. I had tasted lamb before, at Niko Nikos in Houston, but I think today’s food was better.

Tomorrow, I’m going to start the day off by attending a seminar with the American Association of Political Consultants. I will attend one early seminar and one afternoon seminar. The other students will have to attend all of the seminars, but I don’t have to because I am eleven.

I can’t wait until tomorrow’s adventure!

John Daywalt

John DaywaltHi, this is John Daywalt, a sophomore at Sam Houston State University and a member of the Political Science Junior Fellows. We are finishing our first day of a four-day trip to Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

To make the most of the trip, organizational members put countless hours into planning and researching so that we will have the background information necessary to absorb information. In fact, the trip has turned into a research project of sorts, and we are all very excited to be a part of this experience.

Being in the Army I am almost always on time, if not 10-15 minutes early, but this morning I had a rough start and slept straight through my alarm. After getting numerous wake up calls from anxious organizational members, I quickly awoke at 3:30—the exact time I was supposed to be at our meeting place. Luckily, I only postponed our group a few minutes since I was already packed.

Once in Detroit, our first stop was the Mariner’s Church of Detroit, a church listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The church was founded in 1849 to provide a place for mariners to stop for spiritual support. In front of the church stands a statue of George Washington characterized by numerous Masonic symbols. As it turned out, the statue was donated by the freemasons. The gothic style building seems somewhat out of place being adjacent to the skyscrapers of the General Motors Headquarters, but I really enjoyed the church and would recommend it to anyone who happens to be in the area.

We then ate lunch at a Greek restaurant called the Laikon Café, which opened in 1927. I travelled to Greece a couple years ago, and wasn’t very fond of the food at the time. However, the pastitsio at this restaurant was excellent, and I may have to reconsider my views of Greek food.

I was most looking forward to the Motown Historic Museum. Unfortunately, the museum didn’t quite live up to my hopes. Nonetheless, it was interesting, and I enjoyed seeing Michael Jackson memorabilia and the nineteenth-century piano played by Motown greats such as Marvin Gaye.

Tomorrow we’ll be at the Political Consultants Outreach Conference for most of the day. I’m most looking forward to the session on campaign strategy, but I am sure the entire day will be educational!


Outside Rutherford Hayes' house.


Cameron Goodman

Cameron GoodmanMy name is Cameron Goodman, and I am a senior majoring in Political Science at Sam Houston State University.

Today marked the start of our four-day journey throughout the upper Midwest. The trip started early at 3:40 am in the morning. For the first time in my Junior Fellow career I was actually the first person to arrive at our rendezvous spot which, besides being a miracle itself, meant that I got some bragging rights for the trip. John Daywalt filled in my usual role of being the late Junior Fellow after an alarm mishap, but we quickly regrouped and made it to the airport on schedule.

We touched down in Detroit at around 11:30 am and made our way into central Detroit. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my Canadian roots as we passed the tunnel leading into Canada while Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” helped set the mood for our trip to the Mariners’ Church of Detroit.

After visiting the Mariners’ Church we headed into Greektown in downtown Detroit. When we arrived we found a small restaurant named the Laikon Café. It has been in operation since 1927, which makes it the second oldest Greek restaurant still open in Greektown. The food was excellent and it was easy to see why the restaurant has been in business for eighty-three years.

The next stop of the day was the Motown Historical Museum. The museum didn’t match up directly with what I had envisioned, but it was still very exciting to be able to see the studio where the likes of Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, and the Supremes recorded some of their biggest hits. The museum also offered an interesting perspective into how the business of Motown Records began and grew into the powerhouse that it became.

We closed the evening by stopping Rutherford Hayes’ house. It was much bigger than I expected, being more of a castle than a house. My only comparison, however, was Bill Clinton’s modest home in Hope, AR.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s events, which includes an all-day conference, a trip to the Cleveland Art Museum, and dinner at the riverfront. It’s great that SHSU students are given these opportunities, and I also appreciate the fact that Today @ Sam is carrying our blogs.


Trip Overview

Mike Yawn

The Political Science Junior Fellows are embarking on a four-day trip that is built around the American Association of Political Consultants Conference (AAPCC) in Akron, Ohio. In addition to attending a two-day conference, members of the organization have planned eighteen-hour days that will carry them to three states and more than twenty sites.

The AAPCC is held annually, but this year’s conference was sweetened by the wonderful Bliss Institute at Akron University. The Bliss Institute offered to subsidize student participation at the event and, as a result, each member gets a plane ticket, hotel, rental car, and conference registration for approximately $400.

Moreover, the students will be able to learn the nuts and bolts of campaigns, from general campaign strategies, to media relations, to the ethics of the campaign trail and the profession—all while networking with high-level consultants across the country.

But the conference is only part of the trip. The students will see more than twenty major tourist destinations in three states, venues as diverse and interesting as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, President McKinley’s Home, Brandywine Falls, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Motown Historical Museum, Dean Martin’s hometown, the Andy Warhol Museum of Art, the house from A Christmas Story, and many others.

The trip fits in well within the mission of the organization, which is to promote professionalism, education, and public service. And while many of these educational opportunities focus on politics—they will see three presidential homes and museums this trip—the organization has pursued a diverse set of learning experiences. In the field of music, for example, they will see several venues—the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Motown Historical Museum, and various sites relating to Dean Martin in his home town of Steubenville.

The students—and I—are grateful to The Bliss Institute for this wonderful educational opportunity and to Today @ Sam for the chance to share our experiences.


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