In January, seven University of the Virgin Islands students will participate in the historic inauguration of the 44th president of the United States of America, Barack Obama. The UVI students will join outstanding students from across the nation for the Presidential Youth Inaugural Conference (PYCI). The five-day program provides the participants with a deeper understanding of the history behind the electoral process and the rich traditions surrounding the presidential inauguration. Golden Key Honour Society members on both campuses were invited. Seven members from the St. Croix campus will attend. They are Melina Moore, Wayne Petersen, Diane DaCosta, Renako Wells, Nickaya Armantranding, Sharmane Simon and Leana Timothy.
Inaugural Scholars will have the opportunity to interact with White House officials, congressional staff members, political experts and other VIP's such as General Colin Powell and former Vice President Al Gore. After witnessing the inauguration, scholars will experience the grandeur of the inaugural parade, as President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and their families make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol Building to the White House. They will also attend a Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball.
"I am excited about the opportunity to witness history in the making when our first black president takes his oath to office," said Petersen, vice president of the chapter. "It is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life." Armantranding said she is very excited about the upcoming events. "It is a wonderful opportunity for us to witness first-hand the inauguration of our 44th president, who happens to be African American," she said. "It's so fortunate for us to be able to participate."
In addition to UVI student participation, St. Croix Campus Associate Campus Executive Administrator Miriam Osborne Elliott will serve as a faculty advisor at the conference. In that capacity she will facilitate group meetings, prepare students for each day's activities and present educational content for the program.
"The opportunity to serve as one of the selected faculty advisors to the Presidential Inaugural Conference for emerging student leaders is phenomenal," Osborne Elliott said. "It is an opportunity to be part of history in a manner that is more than that of an observer. This selection affords me the professional and personal opportunity to play some part in the transformation of how the next generation sees and experiences the world that they will not only inherit, but also the world that they will lead."
As a founding member of the St. Croix chapter of the Golden Key Honour Society, Osborne Elliott said she is proud to be able to facilitate the students' participation. "I look forward to seeing the outcome of this investment in our students and who they will become as a result of this pivotal point in history," she said.
In addition to participating in inaugural events and festivities, scholars will have the opportunity to explore the numerous historic sites and monuments in the nations' capital, as well as participate in roundtable discussions, debates and other activities that will help to expand their knowledge of democratic principles and the presidential election process.
The Congressional Youth Leadership Council, an independent, nonpartisan, educational organization sponsors the PYIC.
The UVI students are currently raising funds to assist with the cost of airfare, winter clothing and hotel stays.
For more information or to make a donation call Miriam Osborne Elliott at 692-4188.