September 03, 2008
Democracy and the Presidential Election week to feature keynote speaker Tierney Cahill

Tierney Cahill, teacher and Democratic Congressional candidate from Nevada, is the keynote speaker for this fall's Global Community Week titled "Democracy and the Presidential Election" Oct. 6-10.

She will address students on Wednesday, October 8 at 2 p.m. with a speech titled "Living without Fear." Also on Wednesday, Cahill will address the campus community and general public at 7 p.m. with a similar speech. The Global Community Center and Honors Program are cosponsoring Cahill's visit to Lees-McRae.

Several other events will take place during "Democracy and the Presidential Election Week" including a presidential debate on Monday, October 6 at 3:30 p.m. sponsored by the Global Community Center and Amnesty International. On the evening of Tuesday, October 7, CATCH will sponsor a "Rock the Vote" concert with live performances by Levi Weaver and Jimmy Brown in Evans Auditorium.

On Thursday, October 9, a mock election sponsored by the Global Community Center and the Student Government Association will be held during lunch and dinner. A voter registration drive will be ongoing throughout the week, with tables set up at each event.

Finally, on Friday, the Global Community Center and Bonner Leaders will host a Celebration of Democracy - a festive evening where mock election and voter registration results will be announced. Venue and time will be determined.

"We hope to use the events of this week to better inform students about issues relevant to the upcoming election and to inspire them to be active in the democratic process. Tierney Cahill is a wonderful role model in this regard. Her story proves that ordinary people can still make a difference," said Scott Crawford, Director of Lees-McRae's Global Community Center.

Tierney Cahill
A mother of three and sixth-grade teacher at Sarah Winnemucca Elementary School in Reno, Nevada, Tierney Cahill did not expect herself to become politically active. Her expectations changed however, when teaching her students a simple civics lesson on how elections and the government work.

After telling her students that any American can run for political office, they disagreed, and said that they didn't believe "normal" Americans could be a legitimate candidate. They challenged her to prove that ordinary Americans can run for office, and in order to inspire her students, she dedicated herself to running for the District 2 Congressional seat.

Cahill ran as a Democrat, and to her surprise, beat the other Democratic candidates to take on Republican incumbent Jim Gibbons. While she did not have a lot of money for her campaign, she threw herself whole-heartedly into the race, talking about the important issues - education, mental health, and nuclear waste. In spite of the vast difference in campaign budgets between Cahill and Gibbons ($7,000 to $320,000), Cahill received an unexpected 34% of the vote.

Although she lost, she succeeded in teaching her students the value of civic duty. On the night of the election, with her students in tears by her side, she said, "Think about why we did this and what we did. Can an everyday American run for office? Yes. We have lots to be proud of."

Cahill's story is the subject of an upcoming film, Class Act, starring Halle Berry and written and directed by Doug Atchison. Her personal memoir, Ms. Cahill for Congress, will be published in mid-2008 by Random House. She has also been featured in the nationally-published book, Teachers: The Enlightened, the Exceptional, the Extraordinary.

Her story is a true inspiration - not only showing the value of education and civic duty, but because it shows that one person can change the lives of others. She is highly energetic, humorous, and motivating, and has made a true impact on the world of education.

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Media Contact:

Blaine Hansen  |  Vice President of Strategic Planning and Effectiveness
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