By Laura Otto
April 11, 2022
A visit from Jeb Bush gave UWM at Waukesha students a rare opportunity to absorb history and political lessons from a former governor who once ran for president.
Bush served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007 and unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for U.S. president in 2016. He spoke with students and community members during a visit April 7 to the Waukesha campus sponsored by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership.
Before an evening lecture, Bush met in a closed session with a group of about 30 students, answering their questions and sharing his political experience. Among the students’ concerns: how policymaking seems to be set by an older generation of Americans who have different priorities from younger citizens.
“I’m really interested in how we (students) interact with older generations,” said Dennis Smith, 21, who is working toward a bachelor’s degree in communication, “and how similar we are and how different we are. He was elected governor of Florida the year before I was born. So there are a lot of changes in the country now.”
Smith, who leads the Student Advocacy Association at the Waukesha campus, said his interest in politics is as a global citizen. He was among a small group of students who chatted with Bush in the hallway before the meeting began. Smith said he was impressed by how ordinary the former governor seemed and how interested he was in talking to them.
“I remember when he was speaking, I looked around the room and there was no security. No, nothing. Just us,” Smith said. “Whether you agree or disagree with him, I think that’s commendable. And he was very good at explaining things in a way where you don’t feel like you’re being spoken down to.”