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Austin Blumenfeld

Junior finds his calling in political science

By Carly Dawkins

Austin Blumenfeld has taken advantage of the opportunities available not only on the Binghamton University campus, but also in the surrounding area — even going as far as Capitol Hill.

"Binghamton offers a lot of different opportunities," Blumenfeld said. "There are a lot of places to explore and experiences to be had as a college student here."

A political science major, Blumenfeld was drawn to the University for its reputation as a "Public Ivy."

"I'm from Westchester (County)," he said, "so the value Binghamton presented was unmatched."

Blumenfeld, a junior, had always been interested in social studies and politics, but began his Harpur College career undecided on what to major in.

"I took a variety of classes my freshman year — philosophy, history, geography — but political science was by far my favorite course area," he said.

Blumenfeld declared his major after taking Introduction to American Politics with Associate Professor Wendy Martinek. He was further inspired to pursue a political science degree after taking Congress and American Politics, a class taught by Associate Professors Jonathan Krasno and Gregory Robinson.

"Half of the class was a normal lecture on Congress," Blumenfeld said. "The other half was a simulation of Congress, where each student was assigned a legislature to portray."

He described the course as "unquestionably the best class I've ever taken," and said learning about the legislative process helped him during his time spent in Washington, D.C., where he interned for U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado.

"Being able to see some of things that were going on in D.C. was a great experience," he said. "I was able to attend committee hearings and briefings on various subjects, and hear great speakers, including Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve."

Blumenfeld brought this legislative experience back to Binghamton, where he currently serves as president of Student United Way, a campus organization that seeks to improve the areas of education, income and health care for the Binghamton community.

"We aim to help the children in the community, and show them that there is a place to go once they graduate from high school," Blumenfeld said. The group recently volunteered at the Salvation Army, and hosted a Halloween party on the North Side of Binghamton. Blumenfeld also hosts a radio show for the Center for Civic Engagement on WHRW.

"The show seeks to provide awareness for students to get involved in the community," he said. Blumenfeld has interviewed Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, and the director of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW).

"I ask all of my guests what they think is the best-kept secret of Binghamton," Blumenfeld said. One of his personal favorite spots is the access road between the campus Nature Preserve and the Mountainview residence halls.

"It's a really beautiful side of campus," he said, "especially in the fall. It has a totally different feeling than the rest of the campus."

Blumenfeld's most memorable moment on the show was interviewing President Harvey Stenger. "It was the President's first time on WHRW," he said. Blumenfeld had previously worked with President Stenger as a member of the Road Map team.

"I heard about the Road Map team my freshman year, and I was interested in hearing what President Stenger thought was the future of the University," he said. "I appreciated the opportunity to serve on the student engagement committee, and to try and set forth a vision for Binghamton."

Blumenfeld urges students to take advantage of the opportunities available on the Binghamton campus, as well as in the surrounding areas of Broome County.

"Get involved in the community, and explore what Binghamton has to offer," Blumenfeld said. "There are a lot of students that spend the majority of their time on campus, but there are a lot of hidden secrets in Binghamton to be discovered."

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Last Updated: 12/18/13