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Faces in the Crowd

A recurring feature introducing people who plan to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama.
bryant.jpgName: Professor Rich Holtzman and 17 students from Bryant University. (pictured: top row left to right: Holtzman, Heather Miller (freshman), Tom Houlihan (junior), Alexandra Coe (sophomore), Thomas Gralinski (jr.); middle row: Pratik Parikh (jr.), Kaitlin Goldsmith (jr.), Brandon Dobro (jr.), Mallory Musante (jr.), Jason Fortin (fr.); bottow row: Kelly Tufaro (senior), Maria Musarskaya (sr.), Kaitlin Sidorsky (soph); five others not pictured)
School: Bryant University, Smithfield, Rhode Island
Course: 2009 Presidential Inauguration, a special course designed by Holtzman, who teaches American political science; worth three credits; costs $2,000 for the semester
Getting to Washington: Seven hour train ride on Amtrak; tickets cost about $150 roundtrip apiece, paid for by university;
D.C. Accomodations: Holtzman and the students will be in Washington from Jan. 10-21, taking part in a special program run by the Washington Center, which examines the challenges facing the next president. They will stay in dorms operated by the Washington Center either in Virginia or Maryland.
Reason for Attending: "Bryant has a big focus on experiential learning," Holtzman said. "Talking about the election and presidential leadership was a wonderful opportunity. It was a special class. Students had to apply to get in, which means they had to write an essay explaining why they want to be a part of the course and travel to D.C. It was a competitive process, so they were all quite serious.

"We requested tickets from our representative and senators. So far, I got four from Rep. Jim Langevin [D-R.I.], my House rep. Hopefully some students will get some. They all put in requests and two international students talked to their embassies. We'll all go down to the mall no matter what.

"I had meeting with them on Tuesday. We went through the talk about having a positive attitude and being flexible and going with the flow. They see it as an adventure, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A few are volunteering at inaugural balls. One guy is volunteering and attenting two inaugural balls: The Texas Black Tie and Boots Ball and the Arizona ball the next night."

Holtzman said the students are reading "Memo to a New President", by presidential historian Michael A. Genovese. They'll each write a memo to Barack Obama as a class assignment after the trip. But will the students be able to focus with D.C. bars and nightclubs open all night?

"We'll give them the talk about responsible behavior," Holtzman said.

By David A Nakamura  |  December 19, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Faces in the Crowd
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