By Rachel Crenshaw, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — “It was a mixture of the cold air, the historic scenery, the massive crowds, and the feeling of ‘wow I’m actually here’ that made our trip to Washington, D.C., truly unforgettable,” said Morgan Bullock, a sophomore from Frankfort, Ky.
Campbellsville University’s Collegiate Historians, the university’s history club, left for Washington, D.C., to attend the 2009 Inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama on Friday, Jan. 16 and returned on Wednesday, Jan. 21.
The group total was 43, which included students, faculty members and chaperones. The CU faculty members included Dr. Wendy Benningfield, associate professor of history and faculty advisor for the Collegiate Historians; Max Wise, assistant professor of political science; and Dr. Jeff Justice, assistant professor of political science.
“The Collegiate Historians had been working vigorously to gather inauguration tickets for every student on the trip,” Benningfield said.
“Fortunately, the day before the inauguration the group had pulled all of their resources just in time to acquire enough tickets for everyone,” she said. The tickets came from various sources; however, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., contributed the majority.
“When the day of the 2009 inauguration had finally come I just couldn’t believe it,” said Amanda Ford, a senior from Louisville, Ky., and president of the Collegiate Historians. “Not only had we raised enough money to go but we also found tickets for everybody. It was almost too good to be true; who would have thought we would all be able to witness history in the making?”
Benningfield said her moment of excitement and joy truly hit home when she witnessed the faces of those in the crowd at the inauguration. “I looked up and saw an African-American woman with her hands raised and tears streaming down her face. I imagined the years of oppression this woman might have gone through and what it would look like to witness this moment of joy and relief through her eyes.”
Ford’s assumption of “too good to be true” came true for a group of seven students who did not make it into their ticketed area at the inauguration due to the overwhelming size of the crowd. However, the group consensus was that it was worth the trip just to be a part of the massive crowds.
Wise, the chaperone of that particular group, said, “It was a wonderful experience to be a part of. As a government professor, it was truly unique to see such unity at a political event. It was also great to see so many young people present at the inauguration and to hear them discuss political views and ideas civilly.
“It is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The Collegiate Historians had a full itinerary for their time in Washington, D.C. In addition to attending the inauguration, they visited several museums and monuments including the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Museums, Spy Museum, Arlington Cemetery and the Washington Monument.
They also visited several historic sites including Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The group also took a tour of the U.S. Capitol building.
“I found the Natural History Museum to be very educational and interesting,” said Maggie Argenbright, a junior from Lebanon Junction, Ky. “I particularly enjoyed viewing Dorothy’s red slippers and viewing many of the gowns worn by the former presidents’ wives.”
Benningfield said the preparation and fundraising for the trip began in the fall of 2008. The Collegiate Historians raised $24,000 for the trip through extensive fundraisers, individual and student contributions, and a copious amount of aid from Campbellsville University.
“If it wasn’t for the generosity of CU it would have been impossible for us to attend the inauguration,” said Tori Baker, a sophomore from Danville, Ky., who serves as publicity officer for the Collegiate Historians. “To know that CU cares enough about their students to be willing to aid them on their endeavors makes me proud to be a CU student.”
The fundraisers participated by the students included: selling doughnuts and T-shirts; bake sales at Wal-Mart and CU football games; recycling on CU’s campus; and contributing in various types of community service, which consisted of aiding Campbellsville historian Betty Jane Gorin-Smith with numerous projects.
The Collegiate Historians also worked to provoke voter awareness by participating in a campaign called “Get Out and Vote.” They hosted an event called “Get Out and Vote Night,” an event designed to educate students on the political candidates, and they also hosted several debate watches on CU’s campus.
Benningfield said after the successful trip to Washington, D.C., the Collegiate Historians are already looking at the possibility of future trips. Ford said they are interested in traveling to Boston, Md., or New York City, N.Y.
The Campbellsville University students who attended the trip include: Ben Randall of Lexington, Ky.; Nickolas Ross of Louisville, Ky.; Rob Williams of Brandenburg, Ky.; Brandon Hatmaker of Jacksboro, Tenn.; Matt Egbert of Madisonville, Ky.; A.J. Brown of Pelham Ala.; Amanda Ford of Louisville, Ky.; Jessica Boggs of Whitesburg, Ky.; Kyle Hester of Stanford, Ky.; Morgan Bullock of Frankfort, Ky.; Maggie Argenbright of Lebanon Junction, Ky.; Christiana Miller of Danville, Ky.; Tori Baker of Danville, Ky.; Jennifer Vasquez of Campbellsville, Ky.; Megan Parker of Elizabethtown, Ky.; Megan Rowland of Wickliffe, Ky.; Daniel Druen, of Munfordville, Ky.; Sarah Sullivan of Rockfield, Ky.; Nakisha Stargel of Campbellsville, Ky.; LeAnn Stanfield Straley of Campbellsville, Ky.; Rebecca Newton of Charlestown, Ind.; Sara Rowland of Wickliffe, Ky.; Whitney Curry of Greensburg, Ky.; Kate Ames of Elizabethtown, Ky.; Shannon Lemons of Lebanon Junction, Ky.; Nikki Starr of Paducah, Ky.; Dominique Danielak of Bardstown, Ky.; Emily Buckman of Lebanon Ky.; Deborah Dean of Rising Sun, Md.; Brittany Smith of Stanford, Ky.; Jessica Oliver of Brandenburg, Ky.; Gayla Tungate Lebanon of Ky., and Rachel Crenshaw of Shepherdsville, Ky.
Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.