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Students attend inauguration to experience history

Photo from Jessica Laursen

College students from Western New York traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Inauguration of President Donald Trump. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the trip is used as a learning experience for students.  

Listen to Jessica Laursen & Keegan Miller, St. Bonaventure students, answering questions from WBFO's Eileen Buckley about attending the inauguration of President Donald Trump, how this will change their views and what they hope to walk away with after attending the historic event. We thank Laursen & Miller for using iPhone technology to send us their responses.

“It’s kind of a surreal moment here,” said Jessica Laursen, St. Bonaventure senior.

Laursen is among 11-St. Bona students who arrived in Washington last weekend for a nine-day trip.

Laursen described the gray skies and she her classmates headed to the National Mall to watch the swearing in ceremony.

“This was the first election I was able to vote in and so this is the first time I’ve ever really been involved and paid a ton of attention to in the political system, so now it has reached a point where this is all effecting me,” said Laursen.    

The students represent a mix of majors from political science to communications and philosophy

“It’s just awesome that I can look back and say I was there, no matter who it was – that I was here and with other Americans and had the ability to witness this,” said Keegan Miller, St. Bona junior studying philosophy.  “It is history and in 30 or 40 years, even 50 years, people will be studying this,” Miller remarked.

The students are being accompanied by St. Bona’s chair of the Political Science Department, Dr. Danette Brickman. Brickman said this is the third time she's traveled.

“It is about the political process. We actually make the plans to go before we even know who is going to win the election. So these plans were actually made last summer. Students were chosen to go before they actually knew who would win the election,” Brickman explained.

Brickman said it is about the “transition of power”. “We are a country that for over 200 years have had a very peaceful transition of power,” noted Brickman. “It is a great experience for them whether they are supporters of the incoming president or not.”

The Bona students emphasized that no matter what side you are on it is still amazing to witness this historic change of power.

“Whether or not we supported him, it is what it is and I mean we have to go with it,” responded Laursen.

“I hope that after this weekend we can all walk away with some sense of unity and respect for one another,” Miller remarked. 

Ten SUNY Buffalo State students also traveled to D.C. to attend the event to gain a deeper understanding of political science. Their trip was organized by Peter Yacobucci, associate professor of police science and  adviser to the Student Political Society.

“Student can gain a much deeper understanding of political science when you connect the classroom with real political activities,” said Yacobucci. “And it’s even more interesting when you can see the passion of citizens involved in the process as we usher in a new administration.”

Yacobucci, like most experts, expected Hillary Clinton to win, but shortly before the election he noted that he wouldn’t bet on the outcome. “We saw a lot of unexpected turns in this election,” he said then, “beginning with Trump’s crushing win in the Republican primaries. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a rush of supporters moving either way in the last days of the campaign.”

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