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Meet the Wonks: Christian Ogata

The classroom comes to life for this political science major and lawyer-in-training.

People  |  Oct 14, 2016  |  By Jason Scavone

Christian Ogata (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Photo Services) 

Editor's Note: 

For our Meet the Wonks series, we talked with several students volunteering to work the UNLV Presidential Debate Oct. 19, or who are doing classwork closely associated with the debate.


Christian Ogata calls himself a geek for the judicial branch. Not most people’s brand of geekery, but it does make for a student who’s excitement around the debate was immediate and ran deep.

The senior political science major is a member of both CSUN and the Sanford I. Berman Debate Forum, meaning the university couldn’t have wrapped up a better gift for him than the Oct. 19 presidential debate. It’s the last time the electorate will see the two leading candidates square off in person before an election that most pundits agree will be crucial for judiciary concerns. 

Ogata will serve as an usher, which means he’ll get to be right in the thick of the action at the Thomas & Mack Center. After the first debate, Ogata was already taking notes on the candidates’ performance.

“I think that things kind of shook out similar to how you'd predict the candidates to react,” he said. “I think expectations were a little different for everybody, but I think that they sort of did what everyone expected them to do in terms of their presentation. In terms of the way they answered questions or didn't answer questions.”

Ogata is keyed into questions of how the next president will handle the current Supreme Court vacancy. And with more potential vacancies on the horizon — three of the eight justices are currently 77 or older — he believes the next president will influence the court’s makeup for years to come

He has taken several public law classes and hopes to go into law someday, but he also served in Nels Mitchell’s 2014 Senate campaign in Idaho. Working on campaigns in the future is definitely on Ogata’s radar, and the debate gives him the opportunity to see that machinery in action. 

“It's a historical thing I'll probably never get to witness again, but moving beyond that, I think it's a great way to make connections with people who are also interested in the same things you are volunteer-wise. It's also a great way to see how things work, and see behind the scenes of that process (in case) one day I want to get involved in the political arena.”