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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Local youth becomes convention delegate

Monday, August 11, 2008

Stephanie Cosgrove
Americans recall the series of terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, as a world-changing event. For some, it was a personally life-altering day. For one girl, who was 12 at the time, it would serve as an awakening to the larger world and lead her to become a political activist on a national scale.

Stephanie Cosgrove, a 2008 graduate of Washington High School in Cherokee, has been elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, which begins on Aug. 25.

This is not the first time Cosgrove has had an impact that is unusually significant for someone so young.

Within a week of the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy, Cosgrove had t-shirts made and on sale to raise money for the victims. The t-shirts had a message of hope, stating, "The World is a Wonderful Place." The words "Keep the Faith" appeared on an American flag and below that were the words, "God Bless America." Pins with a similar design were also produced and sold.

The t-shirts and pins became highly popular. Cosgrove's efforts would gain her national attention as a young person of compassion and action.

Her interest in national and world events grew and she became an early supporter of Barack Obama.

"I worked really hard to get him here in December," Cosgrove said.

Thanks to Cosgrove and other local Obama supporters, Obama did appear in December before an audience that packed the main room at the Cherokee Community Center.

Obama did well in the January caucus vote in Cherokee and across the state. Cosgrove was elected at the caucus as a delegate to the county convention and from there as a delegate to the district convention, which corresponds to the fifth congressional district in Iowa.

The state convention was as far as Cosgrove expected to go until she was told that she was qualified to try for a national convention seat.

Some Iowa delegates to the national convention are selected at district conventions and some are selected at the state convention. The person who encouraged Cosgrove to seek a district convention selection to the national convention was Dick Sokolowski, a Democratic activist in Cherokee County whose wife is a candidate for a representative seat in the state legislature.

There were 11 women competing at the district convention for one position in the Iowa delegation to the national convention reserved for a female Obama supporter. Each candidate for this spot gave a two-minute speech in the competition to become a delegate.

Cosgrove was nervous but ultimately successful after three rounds of voting to narrow the field down to two candidates and then one.

"I thank Mrs. Cook for my debate training," Cosgrove said, referring to Jan Cook, WHS debate teacher and former debate coach. Cosgrove was able to put across five speaking points in the two minutes allotted to her.

Having already been chosen to attend the national convention, Cosgrove found the state convention in Des Moines to be enjoyable and fascinating.

"It was neat to hear all the speakers. There was a contagious atmosphere of excitement," Cosgrove said.

She expects the national convention in Denver to be even more exciting. She will not be the only youthful delegate. Many states have delegates in their teens or early 20s. Another Iowa female delegate graduated high school last spring and one male is 21.

Following the convention, Cosgrove will immediately return to school. Actually, she will miss her first week of college to attend the national convention.

Cosgrove will be attending the Northwest Iowa Area Community College to get an associate degree in political science. She plans to later obtain a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in foreign affairs, German emphasis. Her ultimate education goal is to go to law school.

There are many years of education ahead for Stephanie Cosgrove but one of the most educational events in her life will undoubtedly occur later this month in Denver.

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