Members of MU Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative attend presidential inauguration

Students will walk in the inaugural parade and meet with representatives from other schools

Fourteen members of the MU Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, an on-campus group that promotes the success and diversity of students, faculty and staff, will attend President Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony in Washington, D.C., on January 21.

The four-day trip to the country's capitol, which began on Jan. 18, allowed the students to attend both the inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. weekend celebrations.

“This is a professional development trip during which the CDI Ambassadors will meet with executives and leaders from Deloitte Consulting and Georgetown University,"said Tyler Levsen, who works at the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative office and is attending the inauguration. "The CDI Ambassadors will be participating in a series of workshops and will wrap up their trip by attending the inauguration.

Levsen, a graduate student studying law and public affairs, hoped the trip would be an opportunity to connect with other people of similar interests and said he would attend the American Constitution Society’s inauguration party. The society is a national organization for law schools, including the MU chapter.

“I am interested to see who I will meet there,” Levsen said. “Of course, I also am looking forward to making some new friends on the trip and to enjoying my time spent with them.”

The trip will mark the first visit to Washington, D.C., for a few of the students.

“This is a historic inauguration and it is the last time we will have Obama as a president, “ sophomore Jazmin Burrell said. “I have never been to D.C before. It is more than just the inauguration. I am excited to see the history of D.C.”

Burrell said she was also looking forward to experiencing the diversity in the nation's Capitol.

"I grew up in Kansas City and there isn’t much diversity in Columbia," Burrell said. "It will be great to see all those people there for the same reason.”

The trip was made possible by the support of local political leaders, Levsen said. CDI sent requests to Missouri politicians who had access to inauguration tickets in the hopes of getting some for their undergraduate members.

Sophomore Alexis Johnson decided to attend the inauguration because of her participation in the 2012 presidential election.

"This is monumental and probably something I will never be able to see again,” Johnson said. “I was able to vote for the first time [this past election], and now everything has begun to make sense.”

Johnson said that she hopes the trip will become a memory she can share with her children.

“I was really humbled about this opportunity,” said Johnson. “I will be able to tell my kids how exciting it was to see the first African American person be elected and now to witness his speech.” The students will return from the trip on January 22.

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