Rising Political Mind

portrait outside
George Alderman ’21

George Alderman ’21 remembers March 12, 2020, all too vividly. 

That was the day — and late evening — Alderman went from popular Student Government Association president to true leader.

Former Stetson President Wendy B. Libby, PhD, had just announced that all classes on campus would move online for the remainder of the 2020 Spring Semester, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision left students dazed, confused and worried. Alderman was among them, but he also knew he had to rise above.

“For everyone who was graduating that semester, their college career had more or less been brought to an early end in one email,” Alderman said in retrospect. “And people were really freaking out. I was in the process of freaking out, too, because the facts on the ground were changing so much. We really didn’t see this coming. 

“My first thought was, I needed to put something out there; I needed to say something. So, that night I stayed up until I think 1 in the morning, working on a statement to try to soothe any nerves of the student body. I knew that, in the position I was in, I needed to be exhibiting something of leadership.”

Such an effort wasn’t necessarily new for Alderman. It was characteristic, in fact. Yet, it also represented the coming of age for a young person who arrived on campus with wide eyes and big plans. From Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, Florida, he had sought out Stetson’s political science program. 

“I recognized how really great a political science department Stetson has,” he noted. “I don’t really know the countless number of classes I’ve taken within the department.”

Quite apparently, those lessons have served him well. This January, he was part of statewide editorial praise that appeared in INFLUENCE Magazine’s Winter 2021 edition, which chronicled “Rising Stars of Florida politics.” The magazine’s target readers are the politicians, lobbyists, law firms and big-business leaders “who closely watch the political moves that keep the wheels of government moving,” according to its publisher.

Alderman was flattered by the recognition, and motivated. 

“Obviously, for everyone the past year has been incredibly difficult and very frustrating in so many ways. It was no different for me. This [recognition] was really something right that I could look at and say, ‘This mention, this honor, is the direct result from all the work that I put in over the last 12 months. … So, yeah, it’s really motivational that the hard work was worth it.”

Politics has always fascinated me, something I’ve always been interested in. That hasn’t changed. If anything, I want to be more involved with it.

student George Alderman about his future

At Stetson, along with serving as SGA president, Alderman was president of the Model Senate. Off campus, he also was politically active, for example, volunteering in March 2018 on the election campaign of now-U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz. In addition, for more than the past year Alderman has worked with the American Conservation Coalition, a nonprofit environment group that is expanding its footprint in Florida.

Most recently, Alderman helped to write an open letter with other young Republicans to the leadership of the Republican Party. The letter received national attention and appeared on the CNN Politics website.

Party affiliations aside, Alderman credits Stetson for providing “foundational knowledge of how the systems work.” His focus has been on American politics and “how a bill becomes a law, going past the schoolhouse-rock song version of that — really learning what makes American politics tick.”

This spring, he’s completing independent study with Professor David Hill, PhD, chair of the Political Science Department, on the topic of polarization in America — a broad view of how we got to this point in politics, including the riots on Capitol Hill and the path taken to get there.

Then, following graduation, it’s on to the unknown and somehow making a difference.

“I’m still largely figuring that out, to be 100% honest,” Alderman conceded. “I do know that whatever I go on to do will be within public service. Politics has always fascinated me, something I’ve always been interested in. That hasn’t changed. If anything, I want to be more involved with it. 

“I see a lot of stuff wrong with the world, with the country right now, that if I’m given the opportunity throughout my career to reach a level to actually affect some kind of change, that’s what I’d like to do.”

-Michael Candelaria