Friends, sisters, political adversaries? Two Gettysburg College students share how

There's one evening of their college careers Beth Leamy and Madeline Shepherd will definitely not be spending together.

On Nov. 4, the two women - who are close friends and sorority sisters at Gettysburg College - know better than to be in the same room.

"It's going to be a disappointing night for one of us," Leamy said.

On that night, each woman - Shepherd as president of the College Democrats and Leamy as the president of the College Republicans - will be surrounded by like-minded hopefuls.

But until then, 21-year-old Shepherd and 20-year-old Leamy will be shopping, working, studying and partying together. They'll also be promoting the platforms of their respective candidates - Shepherd for Barack Obama and Leamy for John McCain.

In a presidential election year as heated as any in history, the two women, who fall on completely opposite ends of the political spectrum, exhibit an atypical interest in each other's opinions. It's the difference of their views that makes their conversations interesting, they said.

"The two of us can come together because we can critique American politics," Shepherd said.

But there is more to the friendship than political commentary.

They go shopping often, the evidence of which isn't tough to pick out. Both laughed about showing up to an interview wearing identical headbands purchased from a mutually favorite store.

But even their taste in fashion gets political at times - especially when it come to shoes.

"That's where I can identify with Sarah Palin," Shepherd laughed. Leamy nodded in emphatic agreement.

Though they agree on little when it comes to policy, the two share a love for politics and debate.

Both said they may pursue careers in politics, albeit in opposing parties.

"Politics has always been a love of mine," Leamy said. "It's where I see my future."
Shepherd said leading the College Democrats during a presidential election is especially exciting.

"This is a time when everybody's excited about politics. It's not just me," she said.
It's been a busy time as well. Each organization has held debate-watch parties and sponsored get-out-the-vote efforts - sometimes in conjunction with each other.

"We're sponsoring events almost weekly," Shepherd said.

Past presidential elections have left young people without a candidate they can relate to. But both the Obama and McCain campaigns have made the youth vote an important one this year, Leamy said.

"The youth can really identify with people on both sides," she said. "This year that's not an excuse."

Leamy said club members are sometimes "puzzled" by their friendship, but the two are hoping to set an example of compromise. After all, they do have a few things in common. Both women were backing candidates who lost in the primaries. Leamy was pulling for Mitt Romney, and Shepherd was hoping for Hillary Clinton.

And regardless of whether John McCain or Barack Obama wins the presidency, the two women said the country is in need of serious change.

"We actually agree that stuff needs to get done," Leamy said.

From The Hanover Evening Sun

By: Erin James

Oct. 18, 2008


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Mon, 20 Oct 2008

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