The students, MaryBeth Dieters, Felix Sharpe, Alexis Stanczuk and Selma Tucker, applied and were accepted to attend a week-long seminar at the Washington Center, a nonprofit organization that coordinates seminars and internships for hundreds of universitie that coincided with the inauguration.
"I really felt like we were attending a ceremony for royalty," said Sharpe. "Everyone on the train and in the crowd had an Obama piece of clothing, and he's held in such high regard. But, historically, I believe he is really the right person for the job."
The group secured inaugural ceremony tickets through U.S. Rep. Vern Elhers’ office and stood in the blue section near the Capitol.
Prior to Inauguration Day, they spent a week with 750 other college students at the Washington Center. Sharpe said he enjoyed networking and debating with other people. "After this experience, it's my obligation to seek out someone who has a different stance on an issue than I do and have a conversation," he said.
Kevin den Dulk, associate professor of political science, has had a student pipeline to the Washington Center for several years. "GVSU is always looking for ways to get students out of their typical orbit, and there is probably no better short-term opportunity than an experience in Washington, D.C., for an inauguration with so much historical significance," he said.
Numerous campus departments helped sponsor the trip, including the Provost's Office, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Political Science, University Relations, and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.