By Curt Yeomans
Talisa Holt, a freshman Nursing major at Clayton State University, was disappointed in 2004 when she saw President George W. Bush get re-elected, despite a portion of public sentiment being against the military actions in Iraq, and many of his domestic policies.
Holt, 18, a native of Thomaston, will be voting in her first presidential election this year. She admits she is no fan of Bush, so she is looking forward to finally getting her chance to vote in a presidential election. She wants to transform her own complaints about Bush into a vote for a change in the nation's domestic and foreign policies.
"[In 2004,] I was like 'dang, so many people sat around and complained about the way things were being run, but not enough people got out and did something about it,'" she said. "I want to be involved this year. I don't want to just complain about the way things have been going, I actually want to do something about it."
Holt was one of 200 new Clayton State students who attended the university's third annual New Student Convocation.
Wyche Fowler, Jr., a former U.S. Congressman, and ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was the keynote speaker. He urged the students to embrace their citizenship, and to vote in this year's presidential election.
The two major candidates are senators Barack Obama, a Democrat, and John McCain, a Republican. Other candidates in the running are Bob Barr, a Libertarian, Ralph Nader, an independent, and Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate.
"In about 70 days, you will have the opportunity to participate in the highest honor for members of a democratic society -- the chance to participate in the selection of this nation's next leader," Fowler.
Fowler also encouraged the students to actively participate in community service projects; excel in their academic pursuits, and to build friendships with their classmates. "If you start now, you will live an enriched life through citizenship," he said. "Those who are ignorant and lazy will never be free."
Brian Haynes, the university's vice president of student affairs, urged the new students to not only be involved in their community, but also in each others' lives. He urged the students to use social networking web sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, to broaden their social circles across the university campus.
Some of those students are already using those web sites to extend their social circles beyond Morrow, and show support for presidential candidates.
"I added Barack Obama as a friend on MySpace," said Breanne Freeman, 18, a freshman pre-communications major from Donalsonville. She has registered to vote, and is excited about voting in her first presidential election.
"It's very interesting to know I could be part of a history-making election for this nation," she said.