Winners Selected for Scholarships to National Convention Internships

April 27, 2012


Pictured from left to right: Eric Dirth; Katie David; Dr. Maribeth Durst, vice president of academic affairs; Jason Billstein; and Nicole SirotaPlotnikov. One other scholarship winner, Amerilous Batts, was unavailable for the group photo.

The Division of Academic Affairs announced that five Saint Leo University students have been selected to receive special university scholarships to fund their participation in the Washington Center National Convention Academic Seminars later this year. Four students will participate in the seminar in Tampa, FL, during the Republican National Convention (RNC) from August 18 to 31, and one student will enroll in a dual-convention seminar at both the RNC and the Democratic National Convention (DNC), from August 25 to September 7, in Charlotte, NC. The seminars require attendance at lectures as well as field placements at work locations.

The university’s interest in the conventions is strictly non-partisan and purely educational. Florida has not hosted a major party political convention since 1972. This seminar provides students with a unique learning opportunity to witness the national political process at work, noted Dr. Maribeth Durst, vice president of academic affairs. The scholarship winners were chosen on the basis of factors including their academic records, recommendations from faculty, and personal statements. The criteria were also set in accordance with the admission requirements of The Washington Center.

The scholarship winners, their seminar-convention assignments, and fields of study are:

  • Graduate student Amerilous Batts, RNC, criminal justice with a specialization in critical incident management. She is a working adult from Newport News, VA, and studies with Saint Leo in Virginia.
  • Eric Dirth, RNC, communication management. He is from West Point, Iowa, and studies at University Campus. He will be a senior in the fall.
  • Nicole SirotaPlotnikov, RNC, political science. She is from Belleair, FL, studies at University Campus, and will be a junior in the fall.
  • Katie David, RNC, political science and history major. She is Aliquippa, PA, studies at University Campus, and will be a senior in the fall.
  • Jason Billstein, dual RNC/DNC, communication management. He is a U.S. Army veteran who enrolled at University Campus, and will be a senior in the fall.

Alternates have also been identified in case the scholarship winners are unable to complete the seminars for some reason. The conventions actually overlap with the start of the 2012 Fall Semester at University Campus, so students are working with faculty to keep pace with their academic workloads.

Students, faculty, and staff from Saint Leo University will also have opportunities to volunteer during the Republican National Convention in Tampa through local host committee efforts coordinated with the university.