While many Georgetown students have been taking in bits and pieces of the Republican National Convention from the comforts of their dorm rooms, one student has seen pretty much all of it – from the floor of the convention at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Erika Barger (COL ’10) may be missing her first full week of classes, but in their place she is attending the convention as part of the delegation from her home state of Florida. Barger is the first alternate delegate from Florida – meaning she is not slated to cast a vote for presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and running mate Gov. Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) – but she has still spent her days on the convention floor, attending meet-and-greets with Republican politicians and other events in the Twin Cities area scheduled this week for the delegates.

“I’m just so pleased and honored to be here at the convention,” Barger said yesterday from the floor of the convention. “I get to do everything that a regular delegate does too, and it’s been great so far. We’ve been running around a lot and I haven’t had much sleep, but the whole experience has been really energizing.”

The Florida native has been involved in Republican politics since she was in high school, serving as president of the Florida Federation of Young Republicans and has been heavily involved in Georgetown University College Republicans. In 2006, she was named National Teenage Republican of the Year. At age 20, she is also the youngest member of the Florida delegation.

To become a delegate, Barger had to submit a notarized signature page (containing at least 600 signatures of qualified Republican party electors within the appropriate district), a statement of candidacy and, optionally, a statutory loyalty oath to the State Board of Elections.

At the convention, there has been no shortage of opportunities to meet big-name politicians and supporters, Barger said.

“[On Wednesday], I was able to meet Cindy McCain, Todd Palin, Dick Morris and Charlie Gibson,” she said. “I also got to take a picture with Jon Voight, which was really cool.”

In addition, Barger has been featured on C-SPAN and BBC Radio, which are chronicling the daily experiences of the delegates.

Barger described her experience of standing only a few feet from the stage during Palin’s speech on Wednesday as one of the highlights of the experience.

“I can’t even put into words how amazing it was to be there for [Palin’s] speech. All the female delegates were on the floor for the speech, and it was incredibly energizing,” she said.

The convention has taken an unexpected turn after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Region, forcing many scheduled speakers and governors of southern states to send in video messages rather than speak in person. Barger said that many of the delegations, including hers, have participated in fundraising efforts since they arrived in St. Paul.

Barger added that she believes the experience of serving as a delegate has been more than worth it.

“I am missing a good week of classes, but professors have been really supportive,” she said. “It’s definitely worth it.”

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