Before you hear from CeCe McDonald or Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), the Hinckley Institute of Politics gives the stage to its student forum hosts.
The students, who introduce the variety of speakers drawn from several disciplines (humanitarianism, journalism, activism, to name a few), are part of the institute’s goal to bring more young people into politics.
Madi Shupe, a senior in business administration, is one of the three new hosts for Spring Semester. She has previously been involved with the institute as an intern and an ambassador.
Now she’s responsible for introducing forum guests and facilitating the Q&A sessions that follow lectures. Though hosting forums can be intimidating, she said it has been “a wonderful experience.”
“It’s been great to get involved with the Hinckley and help activate students like me, who don’t know where to start getting involved or aren’t sure if they’re interested,” she said.
Sawson Gholami and Taylor Talbot are the other two student forum hosts this semester.
The decision to employ students for this position is meant to benefit all involved parties, said Hinckley Associate Director Jayne Nelson. The speakers get to meet bright students and the hosts make dozens of useful contacts throughout the semester-long gig. Hosting also, Nelson said, imparts valuable leadership and public speaking skills.
“We try to tell them, ‘You’re in charge. You can ask the first question,’” Nelson said. “I can really see over the semester how they develop in their poise and confidence.”
The students also get to help plan who speaks, such as Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) or a favorite professor.
Nelson said: “We meet with our student forum hosts and ask them about things that they think are topical or that their peers would be interested.”