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Advance Team

 The Riley Institute Advance Team 2013-14 with President Bill Clinton and Secretary Richard Riley

The Riley Institute Advance Team

The Riley Institute Advance Team is a select group of Furman students interested in politics, government, and public policy. Members of the Advance Team work closely with Political Science faculty and the Riley Institute staff to execute a variety of events and programs and to host guests of the Riley Institute during their time on Furman’s campus. In the process, these students act as ambassadors for Furman and the Riley Institute as they interact with local, national, and international leaders.  

Without a doubt, Advance Team members’ activities are a prime example of engaged learning at Furman. Most visibly, the Advance Team provides indispensable aid to the Riley Institute by staffing public events such as panel discussions and addresses by distinguished individuals. In addition, each January, Advance Team members board a bus for Columbia, where they serve as hosts for the annual Wilkins Legislative Award Dinner, an occasion attended by most members of the SC Legislature as well as many citizens from across South Carolina. As student leaders, Advance Team members assist as counselors for Emerging Public Leaders, a program for rising high school seniors. Furthermore, Advance Team members meet together regularly not only to prepare for events, but also to present and discuss public policy issues, ranging from internet censorship in China to reducing funding for the U.S. military.

Perhaps most significant to many Advance Team members is a special event that they work on throughout the year, a collaborative effort in which A-Team members are responsible for conceptualizing, planning, and implementing an event from beginning to end. These events have included a forum on South Carolina Educational Policy, a public address by former US Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh, a forum on Youth in Politics and guest speaker Jessica Taylor.

Indeed, the Advance Team experience is demanding, but its rewards are many. These students do not soon forget their breakfast with Senator John Glenn or their conversation with Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne of Dublin, Ireland and Chuck Todd, moderator of “Meet the Press” and NBC News political director. They develop passions in areas of public policy by meeting public leaders and by learning together. Above all, Advance Team members profit from shared experiences as they develop leadership skills that enable them to make a difference in our communities and in our world.

Quotes from Advance Team Members

“The Riley Institute Advance Team gave me the opportunity to take the knowledge I learned in the classroom and engage it with world renown politicians, scholars, and community activists. Much of my own understanding of the world and its complex political arena were greatly contributed through my time on the A-Team, and its mission for the individual to keep challenging oneself in thought will be something I take with me well beyond graduation.”

—  Advance Team member Christian Alexandrou ‘18

"Being a part of the Advance Team has been an enriching experience during my time at Furman. Whether partaking in meaningful political discussions with fellow members and guest speakers or meeting influential people like Chuck Todd, I have enjoyed growing personally and professionally from my membership.“ 

— Advance Team member Elizabeth Campbell, ‘18

"While I was studying in Ireland, I remember thinking how ridiculously lucky I was to have had breakfast with Dublin's Lord Mayor Eibhlin Byrne earlier that year at Furman. Not only was it a great experience to get to know her, but the insight she gave me helped enormously with my study of the Irish political system. I felt as if I had been given a bit of an inside track; something for which I give complete credit to the Riley Institute."

— Advance Team member Cory Pansing '11