ALLEGANY, N.Y. — Students from St. Bonaventure University are returning this week from Washington, D.C., after attending the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama and many of the festivities.
Fourteen students from St. Bonaventure, accompanied by professor Danette Brickman, not only were among the millions watching the president take his oath, but were also part of a group of colleges attending a pre-inauguration college study program in Washington this month.
Studying in Washington
The SBU students participated in the Presidential Inauguration Program sponsored by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, an independent, nonprofit organization that allows college students to work and learn in Washington, D.C. for academic credit. The Jan. 10 to 20, program, taught as a course, examined the issues and implications of the Obama administration and the role of media coverage.
More than 700 students from around the country participated in the program. Besides SBU, they came from Ball State University, Loyola Marymount, Miami Dade and the University of Florida.
For the past 10 days, students took seminars in the morning and heard speakers and took in sites in the afternoons. They visited embassies, news agencies, the Brookings Institute, Pew Research Center, Amnesty International and the Democratic and Republican national committees. They also also heard presentations from news anchors and congressional leaders.
“This is one of the most historic elections in American history and in a time with so many troubles. Barack Obama has promised us so much, so I wanted to be a part of this history,” said SBU junior Dan Volkosh of Middleport, N.Y. Volkosh is president of the College Democrats at St. Bonaventure.
“It was a great experience for our students because they interacted with students from all over the country,” Brickman said. Students visited the Newseum and the new Capitol Visitors Center, attended a U.S. Chamber of Commerce cocktail party, and enjoyed a special performance by satirist Mark Russell at George Washington University.
Although the SBU students did not have tickets to the inauguration, Brickman said they tried to get as close as possible to the event. “The students were beside themselves,” said Brickman. For many, this was their first visit to the nation’s capital.
As part of their coursework, the students videotaped and photographed their experiences for presentations to the university and local high schools when they return.
About the Washington Center
The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent organization serving hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C. for academic credit.
The largest program of its kind, The Washington Center has 70 full-time staff and more than 40,000 alumni, many of whom are in leadership positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors in the United States and around the world.
Editor’s note: A report on reactions of friars and their partners-in-ministry to the inauguration will appear in the next issue of HNP Today.