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Best & Brightest: Through Persistence, Southern U. Student Is Chosen To Serve as a Delegate at Democratic Convention

Ashley Scott labored into the wee hours of the morning petitioning her case to Louisiana Democrats.

Stuffing envelopes filled with her biography, a resume, and letters of intent, Scott hoped that all 200 members of the local Louisiana Democratic National Committee would render a favorable verdict and make her one of the youngest delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Denver Aug. 25-28.

They did.

Scott, a 24-year-old Southern University graduate student, along with 11 other Louisiana residents were chosen as at-large delegates to attend the convention where Sen. Barack Obama will be named the Democratic presidential nominee. Scott, a public administration major, beat out more than 100 others for the chance.

As a delegate, Scott’s most important responsibility will be to cast her vote for Obama, but Scott must also attend a number of caucuses and several training sessions, including the Youth Caucus, the Caucus for Women, and the Black Caucus meeting. “You learn about the issues at the convention and bring the information back to the people in your state,” Scott said.

Young adults like Scott are deeply involved in this year’s presidential contest, political pundits say. This year, nearly 2.3 million voters younger than 30 participated in the first 18 Democratic contests, up 170 percent from 2004, and, according to a report released by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and Rock the Vote, young adults are voting in record-breaking numbers and are more diverse than ever.

Unlike many young voters, Scott is no newcomer to politics. While many have used this historic election as a springboard into the political process, Scott has always been politically engaged.

“My parents always kept me abreast of the latest political happenings. My dad ran for city council in Texas. Since I was a little girl, I’ve watched the political conventions on television,” Scott said.

Belinda Scott, Ashley Scott’s mother, always stressed community service and civic engagement.

“Whether it be in church, in our city, or in our state, we have always been involved in politics, attending rallies and supporting candidates. My dad, Murphy Nash Jr., is on the Board of Supervisors at Southern University. In a sense, Ashley has been surrounded by politics in some form,” said her mother.

As an undergraduate at Southern University, Scott worked in voter registration for former Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s campaign as well as two state Senate campaigns. This summer, Scott wrapped up her third session’s work in the Louisiana Legislature where she assisted Cindy Bishop, a lobbyist who advocates on behalf of health-centered nonprofits.

Scott’s most recent work has been on the grassroots level, arming Louisiana residents with information and registering them to vote.

“After Barack Obama announced his candidacy, I decided to get involved. His campaign stresses working from the ground up. I felt that it was my responsibility to do what I could to help,” Scott said.

Scott is most impressed with Obama’s plans to restructure the health care system and higher education. Both, Scott admitted, in many cases fall out of reach for people her age.

“Giving students [financial] incentives for going to college through community service is important,” said Scott, noting that assisting students in eliminating student loan debt and extending health care benefits to students are among Obama’s top priorities.

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention pay their own way, and for a college student the price tag can be high, but Scott doesn’t mind.

“I just want to be involved,” Scott said. “Obama represents a new face in politics. He represents change.”

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