Gardner-Webb University senior and Vale native, Tyler Sain, will join millions worldwide today in watching President Obama give his second inaugural address.
However, unlike most people, the 21-year-old college student and West Lincoln High School graduate said he will witness the historical event with six other Gardner-Webb students while standing 300 feet away from the Capitol building.
The group, who left for D.C. Jan. 12 and plan to return home Tuesday, is comprised of communications studies and political science majors along with one political science professor, Sain told the Times-News.
Although Sain has visited D.C. at least twice before, both for an International Model NATO Conference with his school and an internship this past summer, it was his passion for politics that again motivated him to apply for the one-of-a-kind, limited-space Inauguration trip.
He said the school notified the chosen students in November and later received their inauguration tickets from U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, of North Carolina’s 10th district.
“College students need to be more aware of events occurring in Washington, D.C., because it affects them very directly,” Sain said.
In addition, the university agreed to pay for 75 percent of the cost of each student’s trip expenses.
For the last week, Sain and his college group have been site-seeing and touring the capital city’s top spots including the National World War II Memorial, the Cato Institute, the Israeli Embassy, and sitting in on a session of the House of Representatives, he said.
They’ve also heard from academic speakers, journalists with NPR and C-SPAN, White House staffers, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and conservative activist Grover Norquist, among others.
He told the Times-News that in 10 days he’s learned a mass of information about the ins and outs of the federal government and anticipates using his increased knowledge and interest in politics to effect change.
“I had hoped to better understand the system and even witness it operating firsthand,” Sain said. “Not only have I done this, but I have also realized that we the people are the greatest change agent in our society.”
He hopes Americans of all political affiliations will strive harder to participate in their country’s democracy.
“Many times Washington, D.C., forgets that they work for us,” Sain said, “and they will continue to do so until the voters across all 50 states remind them of this.”