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Republican convention hears from Ouachita Baptist student

NEW YORK CITY (BP)–Twenty-year-old Princella Smith, a Ouachita Baptist University junior, savored a rare opportunity for someone her age as she addressed the Republican National Convention Aug. 31 in New York at the opening of Tuesday night’s session.

“Over a decade ago, a fellow Arkansan at a national convention talked about a place called Hope,” Smith told the responsive Republican crowd in a reference to former Democratic President Bill Clinton. “Now I would like to talk about another small town in Arkansas — a place called Wynne.”

The junior history and political science double major from Wynne was chosen to represent young Republicans at the convention in a national essay contest sponsored by the RNC and MTV’s “Choose or Lose” campaign. About 1,000 young adults between 18 and 24 submitted essays in the “Stand Up and Holla!” contest. Ten were selected as finalists and Smith won on votes cast by the MTV audience.

“Growing up in Wynne, I learned to value service and community,” the Ouachita Baptist University basketball player told Republican delegates. “However, as I grew older, some residents began to lose faith in my generation, labeling us ‘turbulent teens,’ ‘troubled children’ and the one I like least, ‘Generation X.’ Unlike those who fought in the world wars and battled for civil rights, we seem to be perceived as a generation without direction.”

Smith was senior class president at Wynne High School. As a young black woman, she acknowledged she doesn’t fit the stereotypical Republican profile.

“They want to show the diversity in the party, and I’m a prime example,” Smith told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“I had the honor of having Princella in a course last semester in American government,” said Andy Westmoreland, president of the Baptist college in Arkadelphia. “When I gave the class an assignment one day to brainstorm ideas for increasing the participation of young voters in the democratic process, I had no idea that her plans were so grand.”

“President George Bush calls us to a higher purpose,” Smith said in her address to the Republican delegates. “The president inspires us to be what I call Generation X-ample. President Bush calls on us to change the world.

“Our generation of 18-year-old soldiers has taken a stand against the horrors of terrorism in order to bring peace and democracy to those without hope. The president also asks us to fight important battles at home: against drugs, against poverty, against forces that want to degrade our generation and call us Generation X.

“We reject that label. We are Generation X-ample,” she continued.

“Tonight I call on not only Generation X, but members of every generation to be ‘the greatest generation’ and urge everyone to adhere to a universal message that transcends ideology: serve your fellow man and you win every time.”

She said her parents instilled in her the principles of Martin Luther King Jr., who said: “Everyone can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve … You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”

Smith said President Bush personifies that principle.

“He has called on our generation to move into the world and adhere to the charge of service: to volunteer in tutoring programs, after-school programs and faith-based events that assist those in need. We listen because he has set the example.

“Let us join our president. Let us be an army. Let us become Generation X-ample,” Smith concluded.

Smith spent part of her summer as an intern for U.S. Rep. John Boozman. She has extensive experience working in state and local politics, including prior internships with Lt. Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller and Gov. Mike Huckabee and campaign work with several elected officials.

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  • Charlie Warren