Leavitt Center Student Director Attends VP Debate

Published: October 26, 2020 | Author: Kierstin Pitcher-Holloway | Read Time: 3 minutes

Autumn Thatcher, student director of SUU's Leavitt CenterAutumn Thatcher, student director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at Southern Utah University, recently attended the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate. Held in Salt Lake City, Utah, the debate featured 2020 candidates Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence.

“As soon as I got through the gates it didn’t matter which side of the political aisle you were on,” said Thatcher. “Everyone was just excited to be there for this amazing opportunity. The best way to describe it is, big, everything was at a national scale.”

Thatcher is a senior at SUU majoring in political science with a minor in legal studies.
The opportunity to attend the second most-watched VP debate ever in America’s history, came from Thatcher’s work with the Leavitt Center. Unable to attend the debate, Mary Bennett, board member of the Utah Debate Commission and director of the Leavitt Center asked Thatcher to attend in her place.

Thatcher was in awe during her time at the debate. What stood out to Thatcher the most was the atmosphere.

“I didn’t feel like everything was so politically divided; I just felt proud to be an American,” said Thatcher. “I haven’t felt that patriotic in a long time because everything has been so divided.”

Last year Thatcher followed her interest in politics and decided to apply to work at the Leavitt Center. Thatcher began serving on the executive council and was soon promoted to business manager. At the end of the 2019 spring semester, she was asked to be the student director for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“At first I was a little hesitant because it’s a big job and it’s an election year this year so there is a lot of responsibility,” said Thatcher. “But I have loved it so far and my team is amazing! I love everything we do at the Leavitt Center. The Center has really become my home on campus.”

Initially, Thatcher had planned on attending a larger urban university out of state but decided on SUU because of its affordable tuition, quality political science program and local scenery. Now in her senior year, Thatcher stands by her decision.

For students considering political science Thatcher recommends taking one or two political science classes that interest them. She also recommends becoming involved in different political science clubs on campus or applying to be a fellow at the Leavitt Center.

“The people at the Leavitt Center are so supportive,” said Thatcher “It gives me hope for the future seeing that we have so many different political ideologies represented in the center and yet we are still able to be friends at the end of the day.”

The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service offers many services that students are encouraged to utilize, like a safe space to explore politics or opportunities to become involved with the community. It aims to provide an open environment for all students on SUU’s campus, as well as all members of the community, no matter their political affiliation.

Tags: Leavitt Center Political Science

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