A kind and simple gesture – trying to locate the rightful owner of a lost earring – turned a College of Wooster student from political science researcher into social media star at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Annabelle Hopkins, a rising sophomore from Chico, California, found Ivanka Trump’s earring late Wednesday at the RNC when she and some classmates (who will also be doing further research at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia) were walking the floor of the convention hall following the night’s activities. Something shiny and white caught Hopkins’ attention by the Trump-Pence seating area and a quick web search revealed it was the dangling earring that the daughter of the Republican’s presidential nominee, and celebrity in her own right, wore that day.
The good-natured, unassuming Hopkins simply wanted to return it to the rightful owner, but how? “I went into panic mode. Obviously, I can’t keep it, but you can’t even get near the Trumps due to all of the security. I talked to the professors in the morning and they suggested Twitter. I sent a picture of the earring to Ivanka’s Twitter handle, then the whole class retweeted it and came up with the hashtag #GetIvankaHerEarringBack,” she explained.
Ivanka quickly received the message, and while busy making final preparations for her own speech Thursday night, she had a personal assistant direct message Hopkins, who as luck would have it just started her own Twitter account a few days prior.
Shortly thereafter, Hopkins and seven classmates found themselves inside Trump’s campaign headquarters. They got a quick tour and received a gift bag, and Hopkins was able to hand deliver the earring to Ivanka.
“Ivanka was very, very kind … and very grateful. She didn’t notice that she had lost it … and couldn’t believe someone had found it and wanted to give it back,” said Hopkins. “It never crossed my mind to keep it. I couldn’t leave Cleveland with a clear conscience if I didn’t do all I could to get it back to her.”
While that experience, plus the 15 minutes of fame that followed, which included a mention on ABC’s Good Morning America and a feature on Twitter’s Moments, will surely stick with Hopkins and her classmates, they were equally thrilled with their overall experience at the RNC.
A follow-up to the “Presidential Election 2016” course, taught by Angie Bos, department chair of political science at Wooster, from this past spring semester, each student received the opportunity to do further research, or “geek out for a week” as Hopkins put it, at both conventions this summer.
Members of the class were inside the RNC for parts of all four days, and they’re still in awe of the experience as they prepare to head out to Philadelphia.
Hannah Buzolits, a rising senior from Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan, with a potential career of working campaigns on her mind, loved the “behind the scenes” aspect, while Monet Davis and Eduardo Munoz, sophomores with personal political aspirations from Worthington, Ohio, and Lawrenceville, Ga., respectively, noted “it was amazing to see how impactful words can be” and that it was “important to really hear people out.”
The approximate 20 attendees went to a number of panels, gained a behind-the-scenes look into the CBS newsroom, and shared credentials to witness most of the speeches, all while gathering research to test the theories they discussed in class.
“This is the first time we’ve done this with the College … and I think we’re really the only place doing something like this,” Bos said. “There are some other schools that may have interns here, but ours is totally Wooster-ized … collecting data for these collaborative research projects.“