The Political and Civic Engagement (PACE) program is an interdisciplinary certificate program at Indiana University Bloomington, which provides students a unique opportunity during their college experience. The program allows students to develop expertise in leadership, communication, effective citizenship, and public decision-making.
Cassidy McCammon, a junior, joined PACE her freshman year after taking a PACE course to satisfy a General Education requirement. However, she quickly fell in love with both the program and what it provided, switching her major from chemistry to political science and management.
"PACE has become my home at IU," McCammon said. "It's a unique combination of civic engagement, and I have met so many likeminded and passionate people through our close-knit group."
According to McCammon, one of the factors she enjoys most about PACE is students have an open dialogue rather than a debate.
"We're a nonpartisan group," McCammon said. "And PACE teaches us how to connect and discuss different ideas in a dialogue where we talk to one another without trying to convince or talk over anyone else. It creates a really interesting dynamic."
Additionally, McCammon notes that PACE has been doing important work regarding the upcoming election, particularly around voter registration. The PACE program promotes the Big 10 Voting Challenge, a friendly competition between the Big 10 schools to increase student voter registration, non-partisan education, and voter turnout in November 2020 and beyond.
"Voting is so important," McCammon said. "It's one of the most important things you can do, and it's very important to me. This year will be the first time I can vote in a presidential election, and I am excited that I can do it on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. And even though it may be a little intimidating, it is everyone's civic duty to exercise that right."
Ana Caballero, a senior, echoes McCammon's statements both about PACE and the importance of voting.
"PACE is wonderful," Caballero said. "The department is small, and I like that I can really form a human connection with my professors and other members of the program."
Caballero also notes that as an immigrant born in Mexico receiving citizenship after a lengthy process, she has a strong opinion on voting and its importance.
"I feel like people my age sometimes take voting for granted," Caballero said. "However, I think that after the 2016 election, a lot more people started to realize how important voting is. It's not about choosing the perfect candidate, but about choosing who represents your values the best."
Additionally, Caballero and McCammon state that students who are nervous or apprehensive about voting should not be afraid to ask for help or get involved with the civic process.
For more info on the Big Ten Voting Challenge, please click here.