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President Milton A. Gordon, right, and his wife, Margaret Faulwell Gordon, got a close-up view of President Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony Jan. 20.

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Cal State Fullerton Family Returns from President Obama's Inauguration With Photos

Jay-Z performing at the Staff Ball. Photo by Ian Keller

Scores of Cal State Fullerton alumni, staff, administrators and students witnessed history last month when they attended President Barack Obama's inauguration, inaugural balls and other events in Washington D.C. The following are a few of their photos and reflections.

Milton A. Gordon

Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon and his wife, Margaret Faulwell Gordon, dean of the College of Extended and International Education at Cal State Dominguez Hills, were among the guests of Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) who were seated at Obama's Jan. 20 inauguration. They also attended the Presidential Inaugural Western Ball at the Western Convention Center, a reception of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, at the Army and Navy Club, as invitees of Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), and the Latino Inaugural Gala. They also attended a reception hosted by Royce, a Cal State Fullerton alumnus (B.A. business administration-accounting ’77).

Gordon told the Daily Titan that witnessing the inauguration of America's first African American president was something "I never thought that I would see in my lifetime....It was a great feeling."

Gerald Bryant

Gerald Bryant, director of Cal State Fullerton's McNair Scholars Program, watched the inauguration and parade with his wife, Romelia Madrigal-Bryant.

“The one overarching impact that stays with me is the number of individuals we met from other countries who went to the inauguration because of President Obama’s world impact, and their wanting to be a part of this global phenomenon," Bryant said.

Je’nell Griffin, center, with friends Nicole Patton, left, and Katie Cunningham at the “We Are One” concert on Jan. 18.

Je’nell Griffin

"Fabulous," "overwhelming" and "calming." That's how Je’nell Griffin, assistant coordinator for Greek Life, described the inauguration.

“I say overwhelming because of the amount of people there," Griffin said. "I don’t think there will ever be another time when that many people can get together and there not be a crime or a fight. Everyone was happy! People were helping each other — young and old. I joke to my friends and family that it was like a big networking-fest and everyone wanted to know your story, why you came and who you came with. I met people from all over the world. The highlight for me was the inauguration and seeing the first family so proud and looking to my left and right at the crowds of people who were also so proud to be there. It was as if Obama was their child and he was off to his first day of kindergarten. The 'We Are One' concert, held at the Lincoln Memorial with people reaching back through the Reflecting Pool, past the World War II Memorial and all the way to the Washington Monument, featured patriotism and songs of hope by U2, Beyoncé, Jon Bon Jovi and Stevie Wonder, just to name a few.... It was an unforgettable experience that I shared with family and 1.5 million other close friends!”

Davida Hopkins-Parham, right, and her husband, Thomas Parham, at the Audacity of Hope Party and Celebration Ball.

Davida Hopkins-Parham

Davida Hopkins-Parham, executive assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, made the inauguration a family affair. She attended with her husband, Thomas, assistant vice chancellor of counseling and health services at UC Irvine, and their two daughters, Tonya, who lives in New York, and Kenya, a sophomore majoring in political science at Cal State Northridge.

Hopkins-Parham, who spent more than a year campaigning for Obama and won a Congressional District election to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention on his behalf, got stuck in a tunnel on her way to the swearing-in ceremony. The gate was shut down and after waiting for nearly four hours, she and her husband returned to their hotel and watched it on T.V. They were able to make it to two balls and a reception.

Ian Keller

Alumnus Ian Keller attended the inauguration, the Eastern Ball and the Staff Ball. He received invitations for working on Obama's campaign in Indiana.

"I have never seen this country so mobilized, involved and excited about the political process," said Keller, who received his bachelor's degree in political science in 2008.

Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez bundled up as she stood in line for five hours to get to the Blue section.

Michele Martinez

Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who is receiving her bachelor's in criminal justice this year, said she waited for hours to get into the Blue section to watch the swearing-in ceremony.

"It was truly an honor to attend the inauguration of the first African American President," she said. "This profound moment in our history will remain close to my heart and dreams. The best moment for me in D.C. was when President Obama took his oath of office. As he walked toward the First Lady and put his hand on the Bible, I became so overwhelmed with joy, excitement and an emotion I cannot describe because I never experienced it in my life. I cried like a baby like so many others around me. The cold five hours it took to get to the Blue line for security was worth every minute."

Leo Otero, left, poses with President Barack Obama last summer.

Leo Otero

Leo Otero, chief governmental officer for Cal State Fullerton's Associated Students, said, "the mood at the inauguration was festive, and looking around, you could sense that this was a truly historic event. It felt like a celebration of America's diversity and commitment to change.”

Sharon Quirk

Fullerton City Councilwoman Sharon Quirk (teaching credential ’87) attended Obama's inauguration and a couple of balls with her husband Jesus Silva (M.S., education, 2003) and fellow council member, Mayor Pro Tem Pamela C. Keller (B.A. child development ’86 and teacher credential ’92).

Pamela C. Keller, left, and Sharon Quirk with their official invitations to inaugural events.

"This journey started, for me, so many months ago," said Quirk, who was reelected to the city council on Nov. 2, 2008, when Obama was elected. "On Nov. 2, I remember being in a room full of Team Quirk members and watching the results come in. Tears rolling down cheeks, I thought how proud I felt to be listed way down on the same ballot as Barack Obama and also to have a role in helping shape our community. As soon as the election was over, we began trying to figure out how to get to the inauguration.... Once there, with invitations from Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, the excitement couldn’t be captured on camera. We received our tickets and were excited to see that we would be standing in the purple section. We met lobbyists, judges, Mickey from the Grateful Dead and had a grand time. We, then, made our way to the Smithsonian (Castle) for the New York Ball. The governor of New York spoke first and then Hillary Clinton. I shook her hand! The next day, Nov. 20, was exhilerating. There were cheers and jeers, babies, toddlers, grandmas and grandpas, people in trees, on monuments, on shoulders, and, for thousands, there was a moment when you knew that America can and will move forward. After the ceremonies, the party began on the streets with a loud chorus of 'goodbye' to former President Bush as his helicopter flew over the mall. Although cold, the warmth of this day was evident! We attended the the Official Inaugural Western Ball, which was busy and packed. We waited on a dance floor for a few hours to see President Obama and the First Lady. We were entertained by Marc Anthony and J-Lo. The new Vice President and his wife came in to greet us. It was a long wait, but, finally, we heard the band introducing the President. The First Lady wore a white magical gown and at just before midnight, Obama spoke. He told us, 'Let’s get working together to create change.' It seemed like a Cinderella dream. Did everything we saw really happen? We stood 50 feet from our new president and, indeed, we were part of this wave of hope. As a mother, daughter, teacher, elected official and proud American, I have never felt more optimistic."

Matt Schleicher

Matt Schleicher, lighting and sound technician for the Theatre and Dance Department, stood in front of the reflecting pool in the Washington Mall, in the silver section, and watched the Obama get sworn into office.

He told the Orange County Register that "the noise and the energy" was "indescribable."


Witnesses to History

CSUF alumni and 2006 D.C. interns Ian Keller, left, Raisa Orleans, center, and Jeff Vanderslice reunited during inauguration events.

The view from where alumna Raisa Orleans stood during the swearing-in of Vice President Joe Biden.

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