Six KSU students attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., last month. Ralph Williams, Jordan Russell, Jabreia Taylor, Diamond Gordon, Cameron Beale and Nocomis Miner each represented the University as they expanded their knowledge of the world of politics.The students were selected because of their affiliation with the Student Government Association.

“There were approximately 18,000 people in attendance and 4,000 of them were college students,” explained Williams, a business administration major and SGA member. The AIPAC Policy Conference 2016 was held March 20 through March 22. The conference included several breakout sessions with topics ranging from the history of Israel, ISIS, LGBT issues in Israel to African-American leadership.

Miner, a senior Criminal Justice and Sociology major, is the campus liaison for AIPAC. He attended the conference in hopes of lobbying members of Congress. Lobbying appointments were made available for attendees to meet with their members of Congress and speak to them about issues of concern to the pro-Israel community.

“Attending this conference just showed me that there are a lot of things happening in the world today and if you don’t read or endeavor to find out, then you will be numb to them,” Miner said.

The mission of the lobbying group AIPAC is to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.

“I may not completely understand, just yet, all the things within AIPAC, but I do appreciate its work efforts,” said SGA president Gordon. “Since being introduced to AIPAC, it has increased my network group tremendously and has helped me stay in contact with other HBCU presidents. It’s such a blessing to be able to talk about issues with our universities, communities and now, other countries.”

The students agreed that the experience helped to enrich their studies in politics. “I feel like it is a great opportunity to get connected into the political realm and see the different sides when dealing with international affairs,” Gordon said.

A highlight of the trip was that students were also able to hear Vice President Joe Biden and presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump address the prominent group.

“Many of them talked about the importance of supporting our allies,” Williams said. “That’s one of the takeaways from the experience.”

“It was inspiring,” Williams said. “There were so many people there at the Verizon Center—people of different races, LGBT, young, old—a whole range of demographics and everyone there was so passionate and dedicated. It was something I really valued.”