Never too far from politics, students from UC Berkeley made an appearance at the Republican National Convention last week.
Six Berkeley College Republicans traveled to Tampa, Fla., as volunteers for California’s delegation to the convention, which took place Aug. 27 to 30 and centered on the theme of “A Better Future” for America. UC Berkeley graduate student Kenya Wheeler also made his way to the convention as part of a nationwide effort to inform citizens about the benefits of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
According to Shawn Lewis, a campus senior who was formerly BCR’s president and is currently the club’s executive director, UC Berkeley was the only chapter of college Republicans in California to be invited to travel to the convention to volunteer with the state’s delegation. The six who attended the convention from BCR organized the transportation logistics for the California delegation.
Current BCR president and campus junior Derek Zhou said one of the primary things the Berkeley College Republicans hope to bring back to campus from the convention is the understanding that UC Berkeley is a bubble that is not representative of what everyone in the country thinks.
“Being at the convention shows a more normalized part of the country where there are people with very different mindsets than is represented in Berkeley,” he said.
City planning graduate student Kenya Wheeler traveled to Tampa as part of the nonpartisan organization Patients over Politics on a bus tour to inform citizens all over the country about the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Wheeler has taken the semester off to advocate for the health care act but will return to campus in the spring. He joined the tour after his own fight with primary central nervous system T-cell lymphoma — a rare, high-fatality rate blood cancer in the brain. Toward the end of his treatment at the UCSF Medical Center in the spring, he received the news that he had maxed out the $400,000 lifetime cap on the systemwide UC Student Health Insurance Plan then offered by the university and would have to pay $14,000 out of pocket. SHIP will have no lifetime cap beginning in fall 2014.
Along with 14 other volunteers, Wheeler joined 25 local doctors and patients in Tampa and marched through the city’s downtown on Thursday toward the convention. They aimed to inform people about the problems with the current health care system and the need for implementation of Obama’s health care act.
“I had to fight cancer and also for insurance coverage,” Wheeler said. “I thought I could be a voice for people who have cancer or who might have cancer in the future, who won’t have to worry that they will go bankrupt because they can’t take high insurance bills.”
Contact Aliyah Mohammed at [email protected].
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