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OLMA Grad Reflects on Attending Hofstra Presidential Debate

Ashley Neglia got a seat for big debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney after volunteering as an usher.

One Our Lady of Mercy grad was within shouting distance of President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney when the two squared off Tuesday night's pivotal second presidential debate at Hofstra University, and she described the experience as one of the best moments of her young life.

Ashley Neglia was among a select few Hofstra University students that had the chance to volunteer as ushers in the debate hall Tuesday. The Seaford resident then was granted a seat for the big debate, which was viewed by an estimated television audience of more than 65 million. 

"It was probably one of the more amazing things I have done in my life," said Neglia, a graduate of Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset who is a junior at Hofstra double majoring in English and History with a minor in Sociology. "It was unreal." 

Neglia arrived at the debate site inside the David. S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex at 4 p.m. and began seating the crowd around 7 p.m., two hours before Obama and Romney took the stage. When the town hall-style debated wrapped up just before 10:40 p.m., the ushers handed out CSPAN tote bags as a parting gift to the crowd, which featured politicians and key supporters of the Romney and Obama campaigns as well as 300 Hofstra students selected in a lottery.

Negilia said she began following politics closely a year ago and in addition to volunteering at the debate also spent time around the MSNBC stage where both Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell hosted lives shows from. The Seaford resident added that she is grateful for Hofstra working to obtain the debate to give her a chance to experience something most college students do not.

"Hofstra does a really great job getting its students involved with the debate," she said. "This is something I will never forget." 

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