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DU Alum Shares Experience From DNC

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Jason Evans

CNN producer provides firsthand account of meeting two Pioneers in Philly

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Crisant Duran (BA '02) addresses the DNC on the final convention night.

“I’m going to juggle,” a Florida attorney with a large and floppy American flag hat tells me at the Atlanta airport. For anyone who thinks politics is a circus, perhaps I found some modest support for your argument.

Waiting for his flight to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, lawyer Alvin Peters wasn’t going to toss around any balls at the gate, but he was going to do it plenty as a volunteer convention entertainer. Peters’ quirky plan wasn’t the only sign this would be no ordinary work trip. As a producer for CNN, I’ve seen quite a bit over the years.

Being at a major political event was nothing short of eye-opening and ear-popping. In a lot of ways, it was like going to a Super Bowl for the politically active. The crowd was anxious, people were buying Hillary Clinton shirts and buttons at the merchandise stands, and everyone was taking pictures of everything — including lots and lots of selfies. There was a party in the arena parking lot; it was a lot like a Mile High Stadium tailgate get-together, but hosted by a labor union. Fans were hard-core Bernie Sanders supporters wearing Robin Hood hats and chanting slogans against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord. And because this was Philadelphia, the food options had a regional twist: Philly faves like cheesesteak, roast beef and Federal soft pretzels.

In the midst of all the festivity and clamor, in the sea of all the Democratic donkeys, I set out to find some Pioneers.

Before her Thursday convention address, I had the chance to chat with Colorado House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran (BA ’02), who has achieved a senior post at the state capitol despite being only in her mid-30s. But when you meet her and witness the energy she naturally puts out, it’s not particularly hard to believe.

“I am just completely taken aback; it’s like I don’t have the words to describe how I feel right now to be honored to represent my home state,” she told me as she got ready for the most high-profile speech of her young political career.

Duran talked to me about her limitless love for Colorado and DU. “I’d always thought about public service in a particular way, and I remember being in public policy classes and feeling like I was challenged to think outside of the box.”

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Cristana at the Democratic National Convention
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Democratic National Convention

My encounters with DU fans in Philly didn’t end there. Walking in the arena hallway outside the CNN skyboxes, I heard a strangely familiar voice, but I wasn’t sure from where. Curious, I went to investigate and realized I was in the presence of a University of Denver legend — former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose father Josef Korbel founded what later became the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

“Go Pioneers!” I heartily said to her, bringing forth another smile from the former top U.S. diplomat. As luck would have it, I was wearing a DU shirt, so I didn’t waste time introducing myself as Denver’s Atlanta alumni network president. She gave me a big smile, shook my hand and told me she had just given the undergraduate Commencement speech at DU.

When the DNC dust settled and the balloons had fallen onto the convention floor, I was grateful for the experience, even if my legs were screaming at me for all the running around I had done the past four days. Wondering what happens to those balloons? Well, let’s just say you’ll hear popping noises for hours from cleaning crews after the convention ends.

After I got back home, I reached out to the attorney and juggling enthusiast to see how things had gone. Peters was happy to report he was “well received.” Not surprisingly, he had attracted quite a bit of attention and was interviewed by everyone from the Jimmy Kimmel show to Portuguese television. “Somehow, wearing a funny outfit and juggling three balls empowered me to become a political commentator,” he explained.

Politics in America!

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Democratic National Convention
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Democratic National Convention
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Democratic National Convention