Student wins ticket in 140 characters

Lauren Waksman is thrilled to meet Vice President Biden in person at his appearance in Scranton, Pa., as her friend Eve Zhurbinskiy looks on. | COURTESY LAUREN WAKSMAN
Lauren Waksman is thrilled to meet Vice President Biden in person at his appearance in Scranton, Pa., as her friend Eve Zhurbinskiy looks on. | COURTESY LAUREN WAKSMAN

Temple student Lauren Waksman is such a passionate supporter of the vice president that she made her voice heard in a mere 140 characters.

Twitter’s popularity has made it a forum for everyone, from politicians to college students and many more. If there is anyone in the world who still believes that participating in social networks is no more than frivolous banter with no true value, they have finally been proven wrong.

Lauren Waksman, a junior political science major, was personally invited by Vice President Joe Biden to attend his conference on Aug. 23 at Lackawanna College in his hometown of Scranton, Pa. Her spur-of-the-moment opportunity arose after frequent tweets to the vice president’s Twitter account somehow caught his attention.

Waksman had come across an article that said President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden would be nearby and was immediately excited. She attempted to get tickets to the event, but when that proved impossible she said she was upset. She then took to the Internet and tweeted the Biden administration.

A couple hours later, she received an email from his press secretary telling her that they saw her tweet and asked her to give them a call. Waksman said she initially expected the Biden office to tell her to stop sending them so many tweets and that she was annoying them. Instead, she received the shock of her life.

The vice president was not seeking her out to ask her to stop spamming his Twitter. In fact, she was told they were big fans of her tweets and wanted to offer her two tickets to the event. They even tweeted her back.

“Naturally, I freaked out,” Waksman said. “I was just in shock. I hung up and called my friend that went with me and we screamed on the phone for 10 minutes. I started getting calls and tweets from everyone. A bunch of Temple accounts tweeted me, and so did the Pennsylvania College Democrats.”

She drove two and a half hours up to Scranton, Pa., and was given a VIP pass. She and her friend had the choice of picking any seat and decided to sit in Biden’s family and friends section.

“It was amazing,” Waksman said. “They talked about making college affordable, which is a huge issue for everyone, especially now.”

After the event, one of Biden’s staff members took them into the college’s basketball locker room. Ten minutes later, the vice president came in to talk and take a few pictures with them. Instead of just shaking hands, he hugged them both.

“It was the best moment of my life,” Waksman said.

Waksman said that she considers him one of her heroes because he had gone through many hardships in life and still came out successful.  He lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident and was sworn into the Senate the next day while sitting with his two other children in a hospital.

She also admires him for writing the Violence Against Women Act, which she believes is extremely important.

Eve Zhurbinskiy, a high school student who attended the event with Waksman, said she shares the same respect and admiration for the vice president.

“Joe Biden is the reason I want to pursue a career in politics,” Zhurbinskiy said. “He has a long list of legislative accomplishments, is really bipartisan and is really friendly. He’s overcome so much personal tragedy and has never given up. Joe Biden is someone who cares about the ordinary citizen and will gladly take time out of his really busy day to talk to you and make you feel important.”

Waksman is an active member of the Temple College Democrats and recently attended the College Democrats of America convention in Washington D.C. She aims to participate more in campaigning in the future and hopes to get into politics after graduation.

She said that meeting Joe Biden gave her an even greater motivation to build a career in politics without losing herself or compromising her beliefs.

Both girls said that they will never forget the unexpected opportunity.

Hend Salah can be reached at hend.salah@temple.edu

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