Lasell Students Energized by Kennedy Institute Experience

Lasell Students Energized by Kennedy Institute Experience

March 31, 2015

Two politically engaged Lasell students received the chance of a lifetime this week to engage face-to-face with national and state politicians - including Vice President Joe Biden - and re-commit themselves to civil service at the opening ceremony of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.

Lasell Senior Jennessa Agnew, a N.H. native, and Sophomore Jay Franzone of Connecticut applied and were invited to attend the nationally broadcast ceremony held March 30 at the new EMK Institute located on Columbia Point in Boston.

"One of the most touching aspects of the day would be the politicians who wanted to speak with the students, wanted to give us advice and wanted to encourage us to be future leaders, specifically United States Senators," said Agnew, who - along with Franzone - watched the ceremonies from the replica Senate chamber - a main feature of the new institute.

The dedication ceremony attracted political, business and education leaders from across the country and featured speeches from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain, Democratic Senators from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey as well as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

Both Agnew and Franzone were able to speak directly to many of the national leaders (and take selfies); the group of students gathered for the event even received a "pep talk" from President Obama before he departed.

"He said we were the leaders of tomorrow and that we must stay engaged, whether by voting or running for the Senate someday," Agnew recalled.

Franzone, awestruck by accessibility to these high-profile leaders, said it helped him put focus to his future goals.

"I realized I just did something millions of people can only dream of. This opportunity, supported by Lasell, has really helped me put things in perspective," he added.

Agnew, who has interned for the Democratic National Committee, and Franzone, who has worked nationally on the Gay Blood Drive initiative, are both interested in civic engagement.

Both were recommended to attend the ceremony by Lasell Political Science Professor Paul Debole, who also attended the ceremony and has previously served various roles in national political campaigns, including those of Senator John McCain.

"Having been a part of such a historical event is something that I will regard highly for the rest of my life. I believe that any student who steps foot into the Senate chamber [at the EMK Institute] will feel the immediacy of becoming or staying engaged in public service," Agnew said.