As President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term Monday the slew of inaugural festivities had a Big Red flavor, thanks to Cornell students serving on the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Members of the Presidential Inaugural Committee were responsible for organizing multiple events as part of Inauguration Day, including the inaugural ceremony itself; the inaugural ball, a concert for military children and families; the inaugural parade; the Commander-in-Chief’s ball; and a national prayer service, according to Roneal Desai ’13, an Inaugural Committee fellow.
“Everyone on the committee worked so hard to reach the [inauguration],” said Adam Gitlin ’13, Inaugural Committee Fellow and Student Assembly President. “It was an amazing day and exciting to see the end product.”
Since the final week of December, Desai has been working on the compliance committee to ensure that every action taken during the inauguration adhered with the missions, goals and policies of the Obama administration.
“For instance, I would help make sure that anyone involved in the inauguration had personal views that aligned with the Obama administration, from speakers to performers,” Desai said. “We ensure that everything that takes place would be personally approved by Obama himself.”
One of the most rewarding parts of Inauguration Day was observing the tangible impact he was able to make on the inaugural ceremony, Desai said.
“[During the ceremony], I noticed a part of the inauguration that I had personally changed as part of my responsibilities,” he said. “It was really exciting. It’s a huge honor to say that you worked in the inauguration of a president that you strongly support and to be present during that inauguration.”
Gitlin worked on content for the inaugural committee’s website and in the Inaugural Committee’s Office of Public Engagement in the weeks leading up the inauguration.
Gitlin, who interned with the Obama presidential campaign in 2008, said that he was able to get a behind-the-scenes perspective of the presidential inauguration and understand the intentions of the event’s organizers.
“The inauguration committee at its core seeks to bring in as many different communities together at once to celebrate democracy and other American values,” he said.
Gitlin said he saw many similarities between his work as an Inaugural Committee fellow and his position as Cornell’s S.A. president.
“[While working for the Office of Public Engagement,] I’ve been exposed to a lot of different communities across America, and heard about a lot of important work and issues,” Gitlin said. “This is similar to some of the work the S.A. does, which constantly works to reach out to and engage students across the student body and academic community [at Cornell].”
Echoing Gitlin’s sentiments, George Hornedo ’13 said he felt “really blessed” to be a fellow of the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Hornedo previously interned at the White House in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and at the Obama for America National Headquarters in Chicago.
As an Inaugural Committee Fellow, Hornedo worked with the Office of Public Engagement and the Vice Presidential Planning team.
“I collaborated with various folks at PIC and the White House to coordinate a successful inauguration weekend for over 300 business CEOs and as well as for Vice President Biden’s family and friends,” Hornedo said in an email.
Hornedo expressed his gratitude for being involved in the inauguration.
“It’s just an honor to be here and have a small part in something bigger than myself,” he said. “From the swearing-in to the parade to the Latino ball, inaugural ball, and staff ball, it’s been an incredible experience.”