By Amber Jurgensen | Associate Editor
More than 700 Lynn University college students entered the lottery to win a ticket to the last 2012 presidential debate that took place on the Boca Raton campus.
Plant City native Riley Andreu was one of 500 students who showed up the day before the Oct. 22 debate for the drawing. Remarkably, she was drawn as the first alternate ticket winner, making her the last person to receive a ticket to the event.
“It was the most exciting thing that has happened (to me) here,” the freshman said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
Andreu always has enjoyed politics. She has watched other presidential debates on TV but said the debates translate differently in person than on TV.
“Being able to watch the candidates expressions first-hand, you don’t have to rely on camera angles to show you what’s going on or what the candidate is thinking,” Andreu said. “You can see it for yourself.”
Sitting eight rows back from the stage, Andreu was able to get a good view of Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP candidate.
Although the debate was considered a tie, Andreu thought President Barack Obama performed better in this debate than he had in the previous debates.
“I don’t think it was a landslide win,” Andreu said. “But I wouldn’t be shocked if he won some votes from this debate.”
Andreu turned 18 at the end of August and can’t wait to vote for the first time. Her candidate: Romney.
“I find that the economy is the biggest issue, and I haven’t been too impressed with Obama’s economic policies,” Andreu said. “I think Romney can do a better job because of his business experience.”
As a student athlete, Andreu was especially impressed with the transformation of the gym into a media center. The floor was carpeted. Dozens of monitors, screens, desks and chairs were set up around a mess of cords connecting to cameras, microphones and computers.
The school of about 2,000 students nearly doubled in size as media members descended upon the small, private college which fascinated Andreu, who is studying radio, TV and Internet media.
“It was cool to see it first-hand,” Riley said. “I did TV production in high school so I am used to being around cameras and equipment, but I’ve never seen it on that big of a scale.”
Although only about 100 students won tickets in the lottery, Andreu was able to watch it sitting alongside four other girls from her soccer team, which she described as a great experience.
Because of the debate, Lynn University focused its curriculum around politics. In the days leading up to the event, the university scheduled mock debates and activities, such as a movie night and 5K run. On the day of the debate, students, the public and ticket-holders were invited to viewings, a pool party and dinners.
Student ticket-holders were asked to meet at 3:45 p.m. on the day of the event to get on several charter buses, which took them across the street to the Performing Arts Center, which students call the “Wold Center.”
“It was funny we only had to go across the street, but I guess, because of security reasons, we could not walk to the center,” Andreu said.
The students were allowed to walk around the center before the debate started. Andreu and others were able to sit in First Lady Michelle Obama’s reserved seat in the front row before it started.
“The whole setup was amazing, because we had never seen the center like that before,” Andreu said. “Tons of people were taking pictures to document the experience.”
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