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Southwest Florida College Students Attend the Inauguration

Rachel Iacovone
FGCU Students attending Donald Trump's Inauguration

A group of 14 Florida Gulf Coast University students attended the presidential inauguration today in Washington D.C. thanks to the Brunson Foundation and State Representative Byron Donalds of Naples.

Students from Florida Southwestern University and Ave Maria University were also there. Some of the FGCU students are members of Student Government. Ashley Sambrun, the Chief Justice of FGCU’s Student Government said she appreciated the opportunity to see the federal government up close.

"It was a completely different experience," Sambrun said. "Definitely recommend, anybody, if you have the chance to go, go. Like, that's not, like, something you get to see every day."

Sambrun expressed her concerns — and more importantly, her love for the Obamas — throughout the inauguration ceremony.

"Seeing Obama and Michelle, knowing that this was, like, their last time," Sambrun said. "That, like, kind of got surreal for me, and then, like, hearing Donald Trump talk in person, was like — yeah, that was different."

Sambrun's colleague, FGCU Student Body Treasurer Ivan Rodriguez, expressed a similar sentiment after the inauguration.

"The environment was a lot different than what I expected, you know?" Rodriguez said. "Media shows you one thing. I don't know if it's because of all the rallying is done and he's finally been elected or what, but for a majority of it, it was quite peaceful."

Credit Rachel Iacovone
Southwest Florida college students rode a charter bus to Washington, D.C. for Donald Trump's inauguration.

Rodriguez says there were a couple unexpected moments during the ceremony.

"There were times where people did get a little out of hand with it," Rodriguez said. "Like, I heard some chanting from the mall. I heard them chanting back there 'build that wall,' which is, I feel, a little inconsiderate, you know? I have a lot of friends that are here with visas that are from Mexico."

Despite those moments, Rodriguez remains hopeful about the next four years.

"As long as he has his head on right and follows through with his promises — you know, helping people get off welfare by creating new jobs for them so that way they can actually make a living on their own, all that — I'm all for it," Rodriguez said. "So, I really hope he can help unite us rather than divide us further."

The students also met with representatives from both the House and Senate and toured the national monuments.

Rachel Iacovone is a reporter and associate producer of Gulf Coast Live for WGCU News. Rachel came to WGCU as an intern in 2016, during the presidential race. She went on to cover Florida Gulf Coast University students at President Donald Trump's inauguration on Capitol Hill and Southwest Floridians in attendance at the following day's Women's March on Washington.Rachel was first contacted by WGCU when she was managing editor of FGCU's student-run media group, Eagle News. She helped take Eagle News from a weekly newspaper to a daily online publication with TV and radio branches within two years, winning the 2016 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award for Best Use of Multimedia in a cross-platform series she led for National Coming Out Day. She also won the Mark of Excellence Award for Feature Writing for her five-month coverage of an FGCU student's transition from male to female.As a WGCU reporter, she produced the first radio story in WGCU's Curious Gulf Coast project, which answered the question: Does SWFL Have More Cases of Pediatric Cancer?Rachel graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in journalism.