UT Student by Day, Campaign Worker by Night

Published: Sep 11, 2012
Marco Tarantino ’14 is a campaign worker for congressional candidate retired Col. Evelio "EJ" Otero.
Marco Tarantino ’14 is a campaign worker for congressional candidate retired Col. Evelio "EJ" Otero.
For the past eight months, Marco Tarantino ’14 has been getting a crash course in running a political campaign.

As a campaign worker for congressional candidate retired Col. Evelio "EJ" Otero, Tarantino knocked on more than 600 doors this summer, educating the community on his candidate. This August, he attended the Republican National Convention, where he acted as Otero’s surrogate at peripheral events, thanking people for endorsing him.

“I’ve learned more this summer than I could in any classroom,” said Tarantino, a philosophy major who has his sights set on political office. “I felt this would be a good way to develop my communication skills, while meeting influential people within the Republican Party.”

This kind of mingling is no problem for Tarantino, who has refined his public speaking skills through two UT clubs that compete throughout the southeast — instructor Ann Marie Coats’ UT Speech and Debate Team and Assistant Professor Marcus Arvan’s Ethics/Bioethics Bowl Team.

“I love talking with people,” said Tarantino, noting it is the highlight of the job.

Tarantino’s initiative — and his mouth — got him the campaign position. Picking up the phone, he contacted every campaign he could think of with which to volunteer. Many phone calls later, Otero is the one that called him back. He since has learned how to run a grassroots campaign, networked with other politicians and attended the national convention.

“It is an incredible way to better understand the political process that sustains our country and is an opportunity that more students should be involved with,” said Tarantino, president of UT’s College Conservatives which is in the process of planning an event on campus with guest George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

“Not only do I believe that this experience will be helpful academically in that I will be able to better communicate with my professors and develop my critical thinking skills, but also professionally,” he said. “Since I want to create a career out of politics, it is imperative that I first start off as a volunteer to show that I am serious about being involved.” 


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