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Senior Julie Remes has made a major impact on the Western Illinois women’s soccer team and has also had a major influence on how Western Illinois students see and feel about the election process.
While Remes was busy helping the Westerwinds to the 2007 Summit League championship, the political science major, who currently carries a 4.0 grade point average, also played a major role in the mock election held on campus during October and November.
The mock election was a simulation of the actual national election, but was conducted in a process of five days. The process still involved all of the states, with students representing the delegates, or voters. At each caucus and primary, each state was awarded a number of delegates based on population.
“Even though our mock election was a shorter process, we still made sure that it mirrored the actual election,” said Remes. “We wanted students to see that it’s a lot more complicated than just going to the polls and voting.”
Remes’ role in the mock election was the student coordinator. With over 600 delegates, 300 campaign workers and 300 campaign managers, the president of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honorary society, took the initiative to organize and direct the several hundred campus leaders. The past four months, Remes expended hundreds of hours communicating with the presidents of the of the College Democrats, College Republicans, College Libertarians, Campus Greens, and each of the campaign managers, explaining the process, locating resources, answering questions, helping prepare materials, and updating the Web page.
“I was just making sure people knew what they were doing, making sure that the leader of each campaign knew what the plan was and knew what to tell their own workers.”
"Much of the success of the mock presidential election can be attributed directly to Julie,” stated Dr. Richard Hardy, project director and chair of Western’s political science department. “During each session, Julia logged long hours shepherding volunteers, preparing the program, directing the floor activities, counting the votes, and assisting in the cleanup. Julie is, without question, the leader of student leaders on this campus. She is a true ambassador for Western Illinois and she represents the very best this campus has to offer."
With all of the time spent on the soccer field, in the weight room, or on the election scene, one might wonder how she had any time for anything else.
“Being in a sport naturally balances you because you have mandated play tables,” Remes said. “I had to keep a schedule because I knew that I had practice and games at certain times. I also knew that I had to put my study time in. I think that if I weren’t involved in a sport and I had all of that free time, I would get lazy. Soccer organized me. Even though it was chaotic at times, it forced me to focus and retain a schedule.”
The Arden Hills, Minn., native has seen a big increase in the success of the Westerwinds soccer program since she arrived in Macomb four years ago. The year before Remes arrived at Western, the Westerwinds had finished the season with just a 2-16-1 record. Since then, Remes, and seven other seniors, including her twin sister, have seen an increase in wins each season, including a record of 16-3-1 in 2007, the most successful season in the program’s 11-year history.
The success on the field also transferred over to the success that Remes saw off the field, politically, in helping run a successful mock election on campus.
“I had high expectations. When I look at it at first, I think that we kind of fell short of my high expectations and goals,” Remes stated. “But if I look at the big picture, I think the mock election was very successful. The goal was to educate the students here. I taught 3,000 kids on the campus how the election worked and engaged all of them in civic political knowledge.”
The mock election wrapped up November 5 with the students electing Illinois Senator Barack Obama and his running mate, John Edwards, over Rudy Giuliani and his running mate, Arizona Senator John McCain.
With Super Tuesday rapidly arriving on February 5, the student mock election will be closely compared to that of the actual national results. Even though the mock election’s Republican candidate, Giuliani, has dropped out of the race, the students overall choice for president, Obama, still remains one of the top candidates in the national polls.
As the Illinois primary takes place on Super Tuesday, the mock election could have an effect on the polls if Western Illinois students turn the education they received this past October and November into action.
“The greatest advantage for any citizen in a democracy is knowledge,” Remes said. “If you don’t know how something works, you can’t do anything. You don’t hold any power without knowledge.”
Remes looks to the future as a time to have an influence on the community, just as she has had an influence at Western Illinois over the past four years, on and off the field.
“I’ll probably work in public interest as a prosecutor and someday work my way up to a political office or a judge,” Remes added. “Wherever I can make the biggest influence on my community is where I want to be.”