On Friday, Sept. 19, Maryville College students got a rare opportunity to meet with US Senator
Bob Corker. Corker, the Junior Senator from Tennessee, is the lead Republican on the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee and an active member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Committee. In recent months, his role has become more and more important as foreign relations have
hit the forefront of the American political sphere.
However, despite the tremendous pressure on the senator at the moment, he still found time to
make his way to a small classroom on the second floor of Thaw on Friday morning to meet with a group
of eager students that included Dr. Mark O’Gorman’s American Political Process (PLS 321) class and Dr.
Sherry Kasper’s Principles of Economics (ECN 201) as well as many of MC’s international students and
other interested parties.
After a brief introduction by MC President Tom Bogart, the senator related his own story. A young,
enterprising business student – not very unlike many of the faces sitting before him – Corker didn’t
exactly envision politics in his own future.
“I never thought I’d run for public office,” Corker said, “and I felt like I needed to apologize to my
parents when I ultimately decided to run.”
Corker, who came from a family with a long business background, left college knowing he wanted to
be in construction. After building his own company from scratch and seeing it become a major success,
his sights shifted.
“I began to yearn in my late 20s, to do something that had an effect on other people,” Corker said.
Noticing the dire need for housing in his community, Corker aided in the foundation of a nonprofit
organization to provide housing. This led to his appointment to a larger taskforce and, ultimately, to his
interest in public policy.
“I thought it was interesting that his interest in public policy stemmed from his work with non-
profits,” said senior marketing major Keylon Holloway.
Holloway was impressed by the variety of Corker’s interests and his business background.
Corker attributes much of his success today to this initial training in economics. The business side of
politics is one of the most substantial for the common citizen and often one of the most easily ignored.
As one of few congressmen with such a heavy financial background, Corker felt that these business
students were exactly the people he needed to be talking to.
“My business background, the economics piece, has become extremely helpful in dictating the
legislative piece,” Corker said.
Being so, his particular message was extremely relevant to the two classes with whom he was
meeting and of equal importance to the various business, economics and international studies majors in
Topics covered throughout the session ranged from the federal raising of minimum wage to TN
Promise to the priorities and consistency of US international affairs. The students took to Corker’s visit
enthusiastically and responded with an array of questions themselves.
Following the official session, Senator Corker met, talked to and took photos with all those who
wished to do so.
“The visit didn’t feel disingenuous. It wasn’t like he was coming to speak to a group of potential
voters. It was like he was coming to speak to students who were sitting exactly where he was 25 years
ago,” Holloway said, “And that’s what really made his message hit home.”