Campus tunes in to inauguration of 44th president
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Students wait in the Curry Center for the swearing-in ceremony of Obama during the presidential inauguration. Photo/Lauren McFalls

January 20, 2009

The Curry Student Center and Cabral Center of the African-American Institute brimmed with hopeful crowds of young students drawn to the force of history and magnetism of Barack Obama’s historic inauguration today.

International engineering students from Egypt spoke of the hope they felt in Obama’s statesmanship, and ability to soothe relations with the Mideast. “I believe he will have a very positive effect on international relations, especially in the Middle East,” said Amro Rasoul, a graduate engineering student from Egypt. His friend and fellow engineering student Kariem Elebiary, a second-year master’s student from Egypt, agreed.

“I think Barack Obama represents the best in presidential goals, not only for the U.S., but for the Middle East as well,” he said.

The two were among hundreds who jammed the Curry Student Center to watch the ceremony on flat-screen televisions and laptop computers. Students stood in groups, sat on overstuffed furniture, or hunched over personal computers to soak in the moment.

“This is an amazing piece of history that’s happening before us,” said computer science student Randy Dailey, of Holbrook, Mass. “Right now, this is an event unto itself, but hopefully, going forward, we’ll have a political leader who can bring fresh, innovative ideas” to bear on the issues affecting the country and globe.

For biology majors Odav Jallah, a senior from Maryland, and Ashley Thornton, a junior from Boston, Obama’s rise to glory inspires them in their own aspirations for success.

“It’s just really, really amazing, as a college student, to look at Barack and Michelle and how they ascended to such a level of success. It just makes you want to go further in your own life,” Jallah said, while “God Bless America” was sung moments before the swearing in.

Thornton was equally moved. “I think this is such a big milestone, looking back on America’s history with segregation, to this day. It makes me so happy to see this day.”

Across campus at the O’Bryant African-American Institute, an audience stood in the doorway, and sat in rapt attention, as Obama gave his acceptance speech. When Obama spoke of equality, they burst into applause, and when he spoke of America being a friend to all nations, of being ready to lead once more, the applause burst forth again.

Freshman linguistics student Sherylynn Sealy of Shrewsbury, Mass., described herself as being left “speechless” by it all.

“The most moving part of it for me was when he spoke of being remembered for what you build up, not what you destroy,” she said.

Sarah Brown, a middler electrical and computer engineering student from Nashua, N.H., said Obama’s inauguration moved her on several levels. “My father is black and my mother is white and for us, Martin Luther King Day has always been very important. To have an inauguration like this the day after is just an amazing experience,” she said.

Chris Brown, a former liberal arts student and self-taught artist, sat sketching Obama as he listened to his speech. “I’m 41-years-old, and I never thought I’d see a day like this,” he said.

For more information, please contact Susan Salk at 617-373-5446 or at s.salk@neu.edu.

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