Honoring Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D., COL ’93, GRAD ’96, LAW ’96) for her role in advocating issues prevalent to students, the Georgetown University College Democrats presented her with the inaugural Alumna of the Year award yesterday in the Gervase Conference Room.

The award recognized her “commitment to issues important to students and her involvement in democratic politics,” said GUCD Chief of Staff Daniel Gustafson (SFS ’11). GUCD sponsored the event.

In her acceptance address, Sandlin discussed her own experiences as she campaigned and was elected to the House of Representatives in a special election, expressing her surprise at how much she had accomplished in her own life.

She used her career path to illustrate the uncertainty of life.

“You have no idea what’s in store in the next 10 years,” she said.

In an interview, Sandlin said of students: “They really need to be bold and not think that they’re not ready or prepared to seek some of these opportunities, including running for office themselves.”

Additionally, Sandlin stressed the importance of maintaining friendships.

“One of the most important things, when you find yourself in Congress, is that you keep friends close that knew you before you were in Congress,” she said.

Sandlin described her numerous encounters with fellow alumni of Georgetown, emphasizing the networking opportunities that are available at Georgetown.

“So, to have my paths crossed so frequently with these terrific, talented people, not only in Washington, but across the country, who are trying to do great things in their states,” she said, “I think highlights the fact that you’re sitting next to people who are going to be running for office sooner than you think.”

“It helps to see the experiences of alumni in order to learn from them,” agreed GUCD Communications Director Chris Dodge (SFS ’10), noting one of Sandlin’s points. “The people you meet and take classes with in Georgetown will be your colleagues later.”

GUCD Alumni Relations Coordinator John Thornburgh (COL ’10) said he was impressed with how Sandlin’s connection to Georgetown in the past has come back to help in the future.

“Her time at Georgetown has come full circle to her life now,” he said.

She also stressed the importance of not waiting to make a difference and that opportunities already exist in college.

“Don’t forget to look for those opportunities to make a difference right here on the campus,” she said.

“This really is an honor, a distinct and unique honor, to be able to receive this distinguished award from all of you, as you establish this alumni council, in recognition for the work that I am currently doing,” Sandlin said. “But I think more so in recognition for the work that I tried to do here, in the Georgetown University community, as a student and as a fellow College Democrat.”

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