As millions across the country tuned in to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office on television, a group of Wichita State students watched history unfold in person.
"Everybody was very energetic and emotional," said Drew Steadman, president of WSU's College Democrats. "I saw people jumping up and clapping, and I saw others tearing up."
Several students and a professor from Wichita State attended Tuesday's inauguration. They were among the estimated 1.5-million people to crowd Washington's National Mall to catch a glimpse of President Obama.
Brothers Tyler and John Emerson got more than just a glimpse two nights before the inauguration. They were leaving a restaurant when Obama's motorcade passed them on the street.
"We were fifteen feet away," said Tyler Emerson. "Obama was driving right by us and waiving to people."
Emerson pulled out a small camera and recorded about 55 seconds of video, which he posted on YouTube. [A link to the entire video clip can be found at the bottom of this article under 'Related Links.']
"This is an experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives," said WSU professor William Hoston, who helped organize the trip. [Hoston's blog, including pictures from the inauguration, can also be found under 'Related Links.']
College Democrats member Logan Harrison said the trip changed her life.
"The emotion associated with it... It was palpable," said Harrison. "It really just almost brought you to tears to know that you're connecting with people from so many different places."
The trip was a whirlwind for the students. They flew into Philadelphia on Sunday, and had a to be up at 2:00 Tuesday morning to make the drive to Washington and be there early enough to secure a spot in the crowds.
"It was amazing," said student Matt Sullard. "I just couldn't have asked for anything else."
A group of students from Hutchinson returned mid-afternoon on Wednesday. A group of two-dozen students from Wichita's North High School returned later Wednesday night.