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East County Monday, Mar. 8, 2010 7 years ago

Vern Buchanan visits Braden River

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

RIVER CLUB — Joan Shirey didn’t waste anytime when her granddaughter, Elizabeth, asked for an up-close look at the national government and its intricacies.

Having met U.S. Rep Vern Buchanan in the past, Shirey contacted his office and asked if he could speak to Elizabeth’s class.

“I think it’s necessary to know who our representative is and what he does for us in Washington,” Joan Shirey said.

Her efforts paid off when Buchanan addressed about 100 students during a special presentation March 8 at Braden River Middle School.

Buchanan touted his background as the first person in his family to graduate from college and his successful 30-year career in business as evidence that dreams do come true.

Education, he said, is the ticket for opportunity. He encouraged students to work hard, stay focused on their education and to hang out with other students who have the same ambitions to learn. Doing so, he said, will help them realize their dreams.

“Anything is possible in America,” Buchanan said.

Before fielding questions from students, Buchanan also shared about his role and experiences working in Washington, including the fact he voted 1,800 times during his first two years in office, and about governmental processes and structure.

“To be in leadership, you have to do (what’s right for Americans),” he said, noting he represents about 750,000 voters. “I work for everybody — independents, Democrats and Republicans. I don’t work for me.”

Students had plenty of questions as well, asking about a variety of topics, including whether Buchanan plans to run for president one day and on which committees he serves.

Elizabeth Shirey’s eighth-grade social studies teacher Matt Donovan, who helped coordinate the presentation, couldn’t have been more pleased with the event.

“It gives the kids some real-life experience rather than reading about our government in books,” he said. “That’s my whole point — to motivate them.”

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

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