One New Jersey delegate to this week's Democratic National Convention began considering a possible Bernie Sanders presidential run a couple of years ago, while attending the Gloucester County Institute of Technology.
"Someone asked me, 'Do you think Bernie is going to run for president?' " recalled Cory Monteleone-Haught, who, as a high school senior in 2014, was already a fan of the Vermont senator. "I said, 'Eh, maybe. I don't know what kind of support he'd get.' "
When Sanders announced his candidacy the following April, Monteleone-Haught, of Glassboro, lined up to donate. A year later, he joined Sanders on the ticket as a delegate from New Jersey's First Congressional District.
This week, Monteleone-Haught, now a 19-year-old junior at Rowan University, will join U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and other leading Garden State politicians on the convention floor in Philadelphia.
Despite his disappointment that his candidate did not win, Monteleone-Haught, the youngest member of the delegation, said he was excited.
"I'm very much looking forward to having that full experience, of being right in the heart of it all," he said.
Among the tens of thousands descending on the region for the convention, scores will be college students, many of them local. Beyond the handful of students who have earned spots as state delegates, dozens more are working as volunteers and interns for the Democratic National Convention Committee and as some of the thousands of reporters tasked with chronicling the festivities.
"You hear a lot that millennials are apathetic; that's definitely not the case here," said Karissa Hand, an unpaid media intern for the Philadelphia 2016 host committee who has been working a second job all summer so she can participate in the program.
Some of that student involvement, such as Monteleone-Haught's, comes thanks to Sanders, whose campaign nudged thousands of millennials away from political apathy this election cycle. Ten members of Pennsylvania's delegation ran as college students, and nine of those support Sanders.
Hamdi Soysal, a recent Wharton School graduate and a Second Congressional District delegate for Pennsylvania, had never even voted before April 26, when he checked the box for Sanders, and, a few rows south, himself. A dual citizen who grew up mainly in Turkey, Soysal, 23, said he was drawn to Sanders because of the candidate's passionate stance on campaign-finance reform.
"My identity and beliefs were molded in a country that is notorious for suppressing freedom of speech, civil rights," he said. "Then I saw this man who is shouting, without caring what people thought, about the exact things that I believe in."
Many students hail convention involvement as the best way to explore future careers in politics. A few local schools have set up programs linking students to the convention, including a class at the University of Pennsylvania - David Eisenhower's "Conventions, Debates, and Campaigns," which was bringing 13 students to one of the two national conventions this summer.
And the Washington Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing student internships, has joined with Temple University to host the DNC side of its quadrennial academic seminar program, which will match 165 students with field placements this week.
One of Eisenhower's students is Ari Goldfine, a rising sophomore at Penn and a liberal used to "sticking out a little bit" in her relatively conservative hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz. Youth participation is crucial, she said, especially during this election cycle.
"We're facing a different reality than our parents did - worse job security, more student loans," said Goldfine, 19. "When young people participate, different issues receive the spotlight they deserve."
For many students, the draw of politics was deeply personal.
Dani Pocock, a recent Rutgers University graduate and New Jersey Ninth Congressional District delegate, credits her family - with its politics-centered Christmas dinners - for her early involvement in government. Pocock served for four years as a committeewoman of Piscataway for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and has been a fan of Clinton, whom she will represent this week, for even longer.
David Rivenbark, a rising sophomore at Temple who is assigned to the Pennsylvania delegation this week, said his interest in politics grew out of his own family's economic struggles.
Volunteers, delegates, and interns said they saw the convention as an opportunity to disprove myths that students are politically uninvolved.
"Knowledge is power; I can't complain about the system if I don't know the system," said Paige Hill, a junior at Temple who has been assigned to work with the Philadelphia host committee and with Emerge America, a political group dedicated to electing women. "Getting involved was just natural. I saw something I didn't like and wanted to serve people through government."