January 6, 2009

Darlene Cerullo ’11 Wins Tickets to Obama’s Inauguration

She takes top honors in the Election Forecasting Contest held in connection with the College’s live election-night telecast Nov. 4
Thanks to her political knowledge, Darlene Cerullo ’11 (Drexel Hill, Pa.) will be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20 to watch Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

Cerullo won tickets to the inauguration ceremony and to an official inaugural ball, plus a prize of $1,000, in the Election Forecasting Contest sponsored by the Policy Studies program in connection with the College’s student-run election-night telecast Nov. 4.

More than 400 students, faculty, and staff put together “Lafayette Electoral College,” a live two-hour television broadcast, sponsored by Policy Studies, with analysis of political trends, up-to-the-minute results, and panel discussions on races for the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives. Originating from Farinon College Center, the telecast reached a potential audience of more than 500,000 people in the Lehigh Valley and suburban Philadelphia on RCN and reached the College audience on the campus cable system. It was viewed worldwide on the internet.

The forecasting contest involved predicting the winners of Senate and House races and the outcome of the Electoral College vote in selected states. Cerullo outdid more than 150 other students who participated. Her tickets are being provided by Peter G. Jacoby ’81, vice president of federal relations at AT&T. Trustee Bruce Maggin ’65, principal of the H.A.M. Media Group LLC, provided the $1,000 prize.

“This has been one of the most heavily covered elections in history, and it has probably generated more public interest than ever before. Not only did our students have the awareness and interest, they also had unprecedented levels of information to tap into to do research, to find and analyze data, and to come back with a product – their set of predictions – which were judged by the results of the elections,” Jacoby says.“The College’s election forecasting contest and election-night broadcast got Lafayette students involved in a real and tangible way. They encouraged participation and engagement and got the students to look at not only the presidential election but also at the contests for the Senate, House of Representatives, and key battleground states, and at the Electoral College system itself,” Jacoby adds.

Cerullo, who plans to bring her mother to Washington with her, says she is extremely grateful to be able to witness the historic inauguration. “I remember having tears in my eyes watching Obama’s acceptance speech on TV. I can only imagine the emotion when I’m right there and around people who are equally as excited as I am.”

Cerullo was in a class that produced pre-recorded segments for the election-night telecast and watched the broadcast in Farinon Center. She also voted in her first presidential election this year. She says all the activity on campus made her much more involved in the political process.

“Prior to this, I wouldn’t have paid much attention to the Senate or local elections,” says Cerullo. “And in high school, I didn’t really understand the primary process. This has really been a great learning experience for me.”

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