Witness to History
Several from Southwestern heading to Washington for Obama inauguration
Several Southwestern students, staff members and administrators will be among the thousands traveling to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.
When asked why they are making the trip, all give the same response: They want to be part of an historic occasion.
Charles Prince, a junior education major, is flying to Washington along with his suite mate, D’Art Bebel, a junior business and architecture major. Prince said he received the plane ticket to Washington from his father as a Christmas present. The two will stay in Maryland with Bebel’s grandparents.
“I want to be where history is being made,” said Prince, whose mother is the first African-African mayor of Port Arthur, Texas.
Other students planning to attend the inauguration include sophomore political science major William Thomas. Thomas received an invitation to attend the inauguration even before the presidential race had been decided because of his participation in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Defense, Intelligence and Diplomacy when he was in high school.
“I thought this would be an excellent opportunity regardless of who won,” Thomas said. “I hope that this experience will give me a glimpse into the political and social structure of Washington.”
Maria Kruger, a 1991 Southwestern graduate who now works as the internship coordinator in Career Services, also began making plans to attend the inauguration last summer, before the election was even decided.
“No matter who won, I knew it would be historic,” Kruger said. Kruger will be going to the inauguration with her 10-year-old daughter, Isabella, as well as her 73-year old mother, so there will be three generations of her family represented.
“My daughter got really excited about the election process in the spring and we went to several rallies and town hall meetings in Austin, “Kruger said. “In March, I promised her we would go to the inauguration if she was interested, and she said she was.”
Kruger secured tickets for the swearing-in ceremony from Bethany Smith, a 2003 Southwestern graduate who works as a scheduler for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas). She put in her request for tickets in June, and found out Dec. 30 that she had gotten them. She bought plane tickets to Washington over the summer and ordered parkas from Land’s End to keep them warm.
“We were going to go whether we got tickets or not,” Kruger said. They plan to spend a whole week there, also taking in Martin Luther King Day activities and hopefully visiting the White House. “My daughter is studying American history in her fifth grade class right now and this is the best living history lesson she will ever get,” Kruger said.
For Kimele Carter, who works in Southwestern’s Center for Academic Success, the Obama inauguration will be the second presidential inauguration she has attended. She also attended Bill Clinton’s second inauguration in 1996 when she was working in Washington, D.C.
“This is an even more historic moment in history and I wanted to be part of it,” Carter said. “It is something I will be able to tell my kids and grandkids about.” Carter bought a plane ticket to Washington the day after the election and will stay with a college friend in Maryland. They plan to get up at 4:30 in the morning to make it into the capital for the inauguration. They also hope to attend at least one of the inaugural balls.
Even Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum plans to attend the inauguration along with his wife, Jane. The president secured tickets through Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who serves on Southwestern’s Board of Trustees.
“I think this is the most important event that has happened in my lifetime,” Schrum said. The president and his wife are driving to Washington, D.C., and will stay with David Warren, the president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).