By: Lianna Blakeman and Julia Moro

Never would we have imagined that we would find ourselves on a stage in front of over 100 people questioning the future Rhode Island governor and United States senator. As simple student journalists, we typically go about our days staying informed of University of Rhode Island events, hanging out in our office and catching up with our reporters.

It came as quite a surprise when we were asked to serve on the panel during the gubernatorial and senatorial debates at URI this past week.

As terrifying as the offer was, knowing that it would be broadcasted live in front of a large audience, it would be foolish to turn it down. So, we ran with the opportunity we were given. We met with different faculty of the University to outline and perfect questions, as well as go over formatting and what was expected of us. We talked to David Lavallee, assistant director of communications, and Ian Donnis, the political reporter for Public’s Radio (formerly Rhode Island Public Radio).

Preparing for the debates was daunting. Knowing that you have to ask some of the state’s most influential citizens questions is intimidating enough, but with a large audience watching and listening to our every word- it was nearly petrifying; yet at the same time, it was electrifying.

Emailing back and forth with journalists at the top of their field at the Providence Journal and with Public’s Radio was an incredible experience, stressing the importance of what was before us. Knowing that there were professionals working along with us and helping us to plan our questions made the entire process seem slightly less intimidating.

Despite the terror we felt in the beginning, the way everything played out made for an incredible experience. Afterwards, we left the debate with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Not to mention, a great story to tell at Thanksgiving and a new experience to put on our resumes.

Opportunities like this only come once or twice in a lifetime and always when you least expect it. But we didn’t get this opportunity by staying at home and twiddling our thumbs, we did it by getting involved on our campus.

As the Editor in Chief and News Editor of the University’s student run newspaper, and as two student journalists who have been panellists in gubernatorial and senatorial debates, we advise you to get involved. Our school has so much to offer in any discipline you wish to pursue. You don’t know what you can accomplish or what you will be offered unless you get out there first. We never thought we would be working with some of the most talented journalists in the state, but the University provided the opportunity to us.

So, a big thank you to the University for allowing us to participate in an event of this magnitude. And thank you to the professors and faculty who helped us along the way- Professor John Pantalone, Professor Shanna Pearson, David Lavallee, Ian Donnis and everyone else at the Providence Journal and the Public’s Radio.