This week for our Memories blog, we caught up with Carson Bruno, former Executive Secretary of Mock Con 2008.
What was your major while you were at W&L, and what position did you hold for Mock Con 2008?
I served as the Executive Secretary for the 2008 Mock Convention – a position, I believe, that no longer exists in the organization, but at the time was essentially the Chief of the Staff for the Mock Con’s Executive Committee.
At W&L, I majored in Accounting and Business Management.
What was your favorite event during Mock Con?
It’s hard to name just one favorite part of Mock Con. Everything from the Spring Kick-off to the Gala to the Parade to the Convention itself brings back such amazing memories. My absolute favorite is probably a tie, though.
The Convention proceedings were particularly amazing. To see the entire W&L community – both students and faculty, but also the entire Lexington community – get so involved in civic education was rewarding for me. Moreover, I had the opportunity to attend the real RNC in 2012 and was able to realize just how life-like the W&L Mock Con is – which makes what the students do all the more impressive.
The other favorite would be traveling the country with the fundraising team and other Executive Committee members fundraising for Mock Con. It was very memorable seeing all the alumni so enthusiastic about Mock Con and sharing their memories about their Mock Con. It truly is an aspect about W&L that ties everyone together.
What do you miss most about being involved with Mock Con?
Unlike any other organization on campus, Mock Con really brings together the entire student body. As a member of the Executive Committee, I was able to get to know and become friends with a lot of W&L students that I probably wouldn’t have had I not been involved with Mock Con. All of the little Executive and Steering Committee meetings and social gatherings really elevated my W&L experience.
Why do you that think it is important for W&L students to get involved with Mock Con?
Civic education in the U.S. can be best characterized as abysmal. And it is a shame. Our elected leaders from the local level all the way up to federal office impact our lives in so many different facets, yet so many either don’t understand our civic duty or don’t care.
Mock Con, regardless of whether you are majoring/interested in political science, gives all W&L students the ability to learn first-hand what being civically engaged means and how to be responsible citizens. It’s too bad that more universities don’t have a Mock Con of their own.
What was the funniest/strangest/weirdest/most surprising thing that occurred during your Mock Con?
Oh man, the first (an embarrassing moment) that comes to mind is when I mispronounced “aye” in front of the entire W&L/Lexington community to the rumbling chuckles of my classmates.
A really cool moment was having dinner with Congressman Charlie Wilson (of Charlie Wilson’s War fame) and Jesse Jackson’s national political director and the two of them bantering about what components of the movie were accurate and which were embellished (hint: the movie was spot-on. Rep. Wilson was on set during the entire filming vocally giving his two-cents).
Another exciting moment was when we determined we were going to nominate Hillary Clinton and needed to get someone on the phone to accept her nomination. It was a whirlwind 20 minutes. First Hillary herself was going to get on, then it was going be Chelsea (Hillary was on the stump in South Carolina at the time), and then President Clinton, himself, decided he was going to accept on Hillary’s behalf. Kudos to our Speakers’ Chair, Logan Gibson, for making that happen (with some help from then-West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin). The room erupted when we connected President Clinton to the speakers.
How has your Mock Con experience helped you with your professional career?
After W&L, I moved to NYC to work at J.P. Morgan doing Public Finance investment banking, structuring municipal bonds. From J.P. Morgan/NYC, I moved to Los Angeles to get my Master of Public Policy degree from Pepperdine University. I am now at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution – a public policy think tank – doing economic policy research with a focus on California public policy.
Mock Con definitely opened up a whole new world of career possibilities for me. I went to W&L with investment banking in mind and while I did accomplish that goal, I discovered the world of public policy along the way, in large part because of Mock Con.