A Registered Student Organization geared toward leadership development discussed national economy and local government Saturday with Jason Plummer, the Republican nominee for Illinois’ 12th congressional district.
The RSO is called the Leadership Development Program, and its goal is to give students the necessary skills and information to become a technical leader in whatever profession they enter into after college, said Bruce DeRuntz, LDP president and a professor in the technology department. DeRuntz said the organization has been established for five years in the College of Engineering and has won awards as well as national robotics competitions.
DeRuntz said it was a pleasure to be able to speak with Plummer because the politician is close in age to the program’s students.
“They can see themselves in him,” DeRuntz said. “They know that there is only, in some cases, a five-year age difference and no more than a 10-year age difference between them and him, so they say, ‘If he can do it, what am I doing? How do I make a difference?’”
Matt Riechers, a junior LDP member from Springfield studying civil engineering, said it was nice to have Plummer at the event because it was easier to relate to the 30-year-old politician.
“It’s more of a connection, you know, with someone other than someone we think could be our dad,” Riechers said.
Plummer was joined by LDP founder and funder Dick Blaudow as well as businessman Dean Samuel, who both spoke at a panel with him. The trio answered questions about the country’s financial state, the upcoming presidential election and community involvement.
Blaudow said it’s important to talk business at events such as Saturday’s because exposing students to such concepts is a focus of the organization.
“One of the goals of the LDP is to expose the students as much as we can to the business world that they are going into, not only for their own benefit so that they’ll be prepared to go out into the job market, but also from a business’ perspective to have these kids work-ready,” Blaudow said.
Ashley McClinton, a junior LDP member from Cairo studying industrial technology, said before the discussion she was not too involved in politics and their effect on the world, but afterward she wants to get more involved in the election and stay politically informed.
“I didn’t really understand why voting was so important,” McClinton said. “I understand now, though, why it’s so important to be informed and know what’s going on in the world instead of just sitting back and not knowing anything.”
Plummer said although he travels around the state and campaigns, he especially enjoys being able to talk to people more personally like he did on Saturday.
“You meet all these kids that come from various backgrounds, but here they are in this room because they all care about the same stuff,” Plummer said. “So anytime I have the opportunity to meet people and talk to them about the real issues that impact them and southern Illinois, I feel blessed.”
DeRuntz said the LDP regularly invites guest speakers and will host them as often as once every two weeks or at least once a month.