Ten students from the University of Central Arkansas traveled to Washington D.C. to attend Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20.
The group was a part of the UCA political science department.
When UCA student Stevie Massey was asked if she wanted to attend, she said yes.
While she said she wasn’t and isn’t a Donald Trump supporter, she wanted to attend the trip for the educational advantages and experiences she knew she would receive as well as the opportunity to explore the nation’s capital.
"Even though I’m not a [Donald] Trump fan, the inauguration ceremony was very cool," Massey said. "There were so many people there so you couldn’t help but feel historic and like you were part of history. It was something I will never forget."
During the ceremony, she said, she witnessed multiple protesters being escorted out by police.
"It was kind of alarming, but also thrilling because I was watching people exercise their constitutional rights," Massey said.
She said with all the protesting and riots going on in the city, she was nervous about getting caught up in the middle of it, but most of what she saw was peaceful and non-violent.
While this was her first inauguration, Massey said she would like to attend another, "perhaps one for a candidate I actually support."
"I feel like I would have really enjoyed it a lot more had I actually voted for the President-elect," she said.
Massey said the most memorable moment of the trip was getting to tour the Capitol.
"[The] Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, just walked by me," she said. "As I was with a group of political science students, we started freaking out and Mr. Ryan turned around and said ‘Welcome to the Capitol’ and continued on his business. It was awesome."
The students traveled to Washington D.C. as part of the ninth Presidential Inauguration 2017 Academic Seminar hosted by the Washington Center, according to UCA’s website. This year’s theme was "Can we elevate political discourse?"
"The Inauguration Seminar marks the end the of the Campaign 2016 Seminar Series, of which 300 students also attended the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee conventions," the website stated. "Students were asked to elevate their critical thinking above the noise of the current political discourse and become part of a generation of leaders with the power to pursue bipartisan cooperation."
The 10 students who attended were Rachel Allison, Laura Craig, Hannah Hanshaw, Stevie Massey, Keely Smith, Alexandria Tatem, Madison Temples, Riley Trible, Clayton Vaught and Jessica Wilson.
Students took part in daily interactive programs including lectures, small group discussions, and budget and policy simulations. Students met with faculty leaders, traveled throughout the city and visited other attractions.
More than 340 students from colleges and universities all over the nation attended the event. Currently, the seminar is the only national academic program of its kind and size.