Ashling Stanek with Jeb Bush
By Irish Echo Staff
When Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley face off for the ABC Presidential Primary Debate on Saturday, December 19, 20-year-old Ridgewood, NJ resident, Ashling Stanek, will be both an eyewitness and participant.
As a member of the Kevin Harrington Student Ambassador program at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, which is host to the debate, Ashling will be on hand to help the candidates and ABC with logistics and more.
As a junior, Ashling has already been making a contribution and has had a number of encounters with well-known political and media figures via political activities hosted by the NHIOP, including speeches, forums and debates.
The institute has been holding these events for decades, and is a regular stomping ground for anyone running for the nation’s highest office.
“One of my personal favorites was when Donald Trump first came to campus in January of 2014,” said Ashling, a politics and philosophy major.
“He was making a speech. When he concluded, he took some time to greet guests. A classmate pushed me up in front of him and exclaimed that I was from New Jersey.
“He gave my arm a squeeze and asked me what I thought about the state's 'Bridgegate scandal.’ I told him, jokingly, that he should move across the bridge and run against Governor Christie. Now with the two of them are running for the Republican nomination for president, I like to claim I gave Trump the idea.”
Ashling credits Saint Anselm College for her love of both politics and the media.
She is a first generation Irish American and is a well-known Irish dancer.
“This experience has been life changing for me. When I first arrived at Saint A’s, I had intentions of becoming a lawyer,” she said.
“Through the Student Ambassadors program, I began to see there was a so much more to politics than a bunch of people arguing about budgets. I was captivated by the media. I have always been a hustle and bustle kind of person. I never actually considered a career that would have the same kind of atmosphere until now.”
Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D., president of Saint Anselm College, noted the importance of hosting presidential debates.
“We’re proud of our long record of participation in the presidential selection process, especially this year, the one hundredth anniversary of the New Hampshire primary.
“The opportunity to take part in the debates and to host the candidates and the national news media offers our students a unique educational experience and a memory they will carry throughout their lives. There is no better way to learn about the process than to be part of it,” he said.