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Students travel to D.C. for inauguration

To coincide with one of the most highly publicized political campaigns in U.S. history, today’s inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama is expected to have the highest turnout on record.

According to, officials expect 2 million people to attend the 2009 inauguration — some of whom are students at USF. Nic Zateslo, a senior double majoring in political science and history, will be one of several in attendance.

Zateslo said he feels connected to Obama’s campaign because he worked closely with it during the election. He first saw Obama in 2004 during his speech at the Democratic National Convention. Since then, Zateslo said he felt compelled to help with Obama’s run for the presidency and has been a volunteer for the campaign in Tampa, where he got the chance to meet the politician.

“I was at a rally and decided to stay late, so I introduced myself to him, told him I was the president of the USF College Democrats and talked to him for a brief amount of time,” Zateslo said.

Convinced that Obama would be victorious in last year’s presidential election, Zateslo bought plane tickets in May to Washington, D.C., for the inauguration. He plans to stay in Washington with his family until Friday.

Jessica Lacy, a freshman majoring in political science, arrived in Washington early Saturday morning for the event after enduring the 14-hour drive north. Lacy said she understood the significance behind the inauguration when she saw a sign on the street with a picture of Obama and the slogan “From Slavery to President.”

“This is definitely a moving moment for African-American people like myself,” said Cynthia Holifield, a senior majoring in sociology who took a plane to Washington early Monday morning.

Alan Awad, a freshman majoring in political science who will also be in attendance, said he thinks Obama has made it possible for young voters to change the American political landscape and, for the first time ever, made a country glow with optimism about its next president.

“I have never seen people in a big city be as excited or as happy in my life, and I think that the inauguration, has a lot to do with it,” Awad said. “Young voters are involved in this process now, and we feel like we belong and have an input in what happens for the first time in a long time.”

For USF students who could not obtain a ticket to the inauguration, there are other options to watch Obama’s speech. The inauguration will be shown at various locations around campus, including the Grace Allen Conference Room, located on the fourth floor of the USF Library, the Marshall Student Center Ballroom, Theatre I and the Marshall Student Center Beef O’ Brady’s.