Though young in years, Braxton Denton has proven himself in the past to be an asset to his family, his friends, his church, his community and, more recently, to his college and Phi Theta Kappa.
Denton, who will turn 21 in October, is a very personable, courteous, friendly, young man who seems to never meet a stranger. He has the gift of making everyone he meets feel as though he or she is someone of importanceand that person is important to Braxton.
He is candid in his conversation and displays a genuine interest in people, worthy causes and todays government. He is interested, concerned and confident enough that he wants to make a difference, but humble and unassuming enough that he shares the credit for his accomplishments with others.
Others recognizing these qualities in Denton helped put him in the race for a respected coveted office.
Denton is serious about wanting to make a difference. He currently attends the Kaskaskia College, but has been accepted to University of Illinois in Springfield.
At UIS, I can study law and political science in the capital, which will be nice, because someday I want to be a senator, Denton said. Everything is right there, and it just so happens that it is the most economical public university in the state of Illinois.
I will save money and get the best school suited for me.
An added bonus is, Its not too far to drive, said Denton, who will begin classes at UIS in the fall.
An informed, idealistic person in the world of politics, Denton currently serves as a Republican precinct committeeman in Vandalia at age 20.
The Deserved Honor
Denton recently returned from Philadelphia, where he ran for the respected and coveted office of international president of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He finished second in the race, a very notable accomplishment.
He explained why he was interested in becoming involved in the society.
I did terrible in high school, and it was time for me to step it up, he said. So my biggest goal at Kaskaskia College, when I was a senior, was to get into the honor society.
Through the organization, he said, I have met the most amazing people. It has opened up every door I could imagine.
Denton is now president of the Kaskaskia Chapter of the society.
I couldnt ask for things to work out as good as they did, he said. I have a really supportive college president, Dr. James Underwood.
He is one of the best people Ive ever met. He has always supported me, and pushed me to be a lot more than I am. I can honestly say that without the support of him and Kaskaskia College, a lot of things Ive done wouldnt be done. I couldnt let him down; he believes in me.
Ive met a lot of people, Sen. (Dan) Rutherford, Sen. (Frank) Watson, Rep. (Ron) Stephens. I now have a base, a foundation to build on, when I go to U of I in Springfield, Denton said.
Ive met great advisers, great leaders and great future leaders. I ran for the international presidency because I decided that if I was going to stay at Kaskaskia for one more year, I wanted to do it with one of the jobs I thought I could do well at. That was the only reason I would stop my future plans and stay at Kaskaskia for another year.
Denton is not bitter over the loss of the race. I love the fact that I gave 110 percent, and we had a beautiful, grand booth (in Philadelphia). People just flocked to it.
It was the best booth there, because of those people who helped me. I didnt do it by myself, he said, recognizing the Fairfield chapter of Frontier Community College as joining with the KC contingent.
He described his vice president, Katie Hugo, and his campaign manager and vice president of fellowship, John Fischer, as the most selfless people Ive ever met. They spent a whole week in Philadelphia, always by my side. I consider them two great leaders. They pushed me and pushed me.
About the week of campaigning, Denton said, My feet were so sore, I couldnt stand at the end of the day. I had to soak them for an hour.
I was on my feet from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., and I was shaking peoples hands all day long, probably 2,000 or 3,000 people, and smiling so much that my face hurt.
Eight people were running for international president. Phi Theta Kappa has 100,000 people active at any given time and they induct 20,000 each year. There were 4,000 people there, including college presidents.
They voted on Friday in the primaries and I was lucky enough to be one of the eight, so I just felt so great that we made the finals, he said. I just feel privileged that I was one of the two.
The primaries narrowed the field to two, but due to other circumstances, there were four finalists. Denton had to make a speech before 4,000 people. It was the most invigorating thing Ive ever done, he said.
I wasnt nervous at all, but when you get a standing ovation from 4.000 people, your heart starts to beat just a little bit faster, he said. I had overwhelming support after the speech was over.
Denton, characteristically, said the winner was just as well suited as he was for the presidency.
I cant be upset for what happened, and I can now say I ran an international campaign, he said. That may not mean anything to someone else, but it means a lot to me.
If you give a 110 percent, you dont feel so bad if you lose, he said. And I cant say I lost, because someone else had the opportunity to go forward.
While at the convention, Denton met up with a well-wisher.
He asked me my future plans and I told him I was going to U of I in Springfield. I told him my plans. He said, Really Im a lawyer in Springfield, and have been a lobbyist in Springfield for years. Ive been an international officer for Phi Theta Kappa.’
The man wished Denton luck, and encouraged him to get in touch once he got in Springfield.
I was praying all week that I would win this. When I lost, the first person I thought of was that man. I think God put him there, Denton said.
Later that night, we were going to the general sessions, where all 4,000 people meet in one room, and that man was given an award. I thought Thank you, God. (Meeting him) might open a career door for me or a temporary job or contacts. I believe God put him in that hallway.
What happened with the voting doesnt bother me a bit, because I know my future and I have faith in God. Im going to leave Kaskaskia College with a degree, Im going to U of I and progress with my future. How could I be upset with all of that?
I had a dilemma when I got back, and I decided its time for me to move on to Springfield. God was telling me it was time to move on. My family is very supportive and say they will miss me, but they support me moving on, Braxton said. His parents are Brad and Kim Denton. He also has a younger brother.
He has worked as janitor at the First United Methodist Church and as a lifeguard at Vandalia Lake, and he now works at Kaskaskia College as an office helper. He has worked hard at and drawn other young people into the Relay for Life event held to raise money for the fight against cancer.
Braxton said that while he sets goals for himself, he sets high, but reachable standards. My goal for the presidency was not for the office itself, but to make it to the finals, although I did have my heart set on it. So far, Ive reached every goal I set, he said.
Braxtons list of helpful people in his life and the credit he gives to others for his accomplishments reflects back on him and speaks well of his character and integrity.
As he prepares for his future in Springfield, studying law and political science, and works toward his goal of someday being a senator, where he can make a difference, it will be interesting to follow Braxton Dentons chosen path, accomplishments and goals, with hopes and prayers that he indeed will make a differencewhich, in fact, he is already doing.