Peru State College
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News Release

Peru State students on their way to Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.


Peru State students on their way to Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.
Left to right: Dean Shissler, Jarrett Willet,
Richard Kepford Sue Targen,
Danielle Prchal, Dr. Crook
Not Pictured: Heather Stoner,
Katie Niermann, Mitch Thiel

(Peru, Neb.) Eight Peru State College (PSC) students and two faculty members depart today for Washington, D.C., to attend the inauguration of President Barak Obama on Monday, Jan. 21.

History Professor Dr. Sara Crook, who will accompany the group, said, “I want to thank Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry for arranging for our group to have tickets to the Inaugural Ceremonies on Monday and Senator Mike Johanns for arranging a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Our students are incredibly excited to witness firsthand the Constitutional processes that occur as a result of the presidential election. 

“Whereas many nations must undergo a coup, an assassination, or even war in order to make a choice for the leader of their country, the United States has devised a four-year cycle that allows for a peaceful transfer of power.  Our students had to commit to this trip prior to the November election, but the point of the trip is not based on who is being inaugurated, but rather it is about the Constitutional procedures in place that authorize the leadership position.”

Participating students are members of Phi Alpha Theta, a professional society whose mission is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. The group seeks to bring students, teachers and writers of history together for intellectual and social exchanges, which promote and assist historical research and publication by members in a variety of ways.

Participating students include:

  • Richard Kepford, a junior political and social science major from Bellevue
  • Katherine Nierman, a senior social science education major from Sterling
  • Danielle Prchal, a senior social science major from Omaha
  • Dean Shissler, a sophomore social and history education major from Syracuse and Hastings
  • Heather Stoner, a sophomore business administration major from Omaha
  • Susan Tangen, a senior history major from Sabetha, Kan.
  • Mitchell Theil, a freshman business administration major from Lincoln
  • Jarrett Willet, a senior art and history major from Wymore

Among the activities planned for the group are attending the Nebraska Inaugural Brunch at the National Press Club with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and visits to the National Mall, U.S. Supreme Court, Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian American History Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, and Arlington Cemetery.

The trip was made possible by an award from $43,000 in mini-grants awarded to 15 faculty members as part of the college’s inaugural Student Engagement Enhancement (SEE) Initiative.

President Dan Hanson said, “When we talk about student engagement at Peru State, we are referring to active participation in relevant learning activities. We want our students to have the opportunity to experience learning in new and unique ways. The SEE mini grants are a way to encourage creativity and innovation in teaching, thereby enhancing the student learning experience.”

The SEE Initiative arose out of the college’s Sesquicentennial Strategic Plan; the first transformational goal is ‘Excellence through Essential Engagement.’ Strategies associated with that goal include enhancing the student experience through distinctive engagement, fostering engaged learning and achievement through proven best practices, and creating a dynamic learning environment for the campus community focused on professional development and technology.

Proposals, which were submitted as part of a competitive peer-reviewed process, were required to feature an unusual opportunity for student engagement. Those that demonstrated an effective application of educational best practices, the development of critical thinking capacity, and that had the potential to impact the college’s second strategic goal of ‘increased prominence’ were particularly valued. Project areas included stipends to develop new and unusually engaging courses, field experiences, the acquisition of new equipment or simulation software, and service learning community initiatives, among others.

Crook said, “The proposals put forth by me and my colleagues take a creative approach to engaging students in infrequent events, like the Presidential Inauguration. That particular field experience presents an extraordinarily rare opportunity for Peru State students to be in the midst of an historic event as it occurs and analyze the politics, sociology and psychology that play into such a nationally important event.”

Students who will attend the events expressed their enthusiasm and appreciation.

Stoner said, “Going to Washington, D.C., is something any American or fan of history should strive for. We should take in our culture and see where our founding father's minds worked and collaborated to make this great country.  I believe that seeing the Declaration of Independence, the monuments and paying respects to those who lived their lives so we may be free will be very touching. I appreciate the opportunity that Peru State is providing as it fulfills a dream of mine.”

Shissler said, “What I am most looking forward to, as a social science major and general history buff is the chance to see some of the most famous places in our nation’s history, namely the Smithsonian Institute and the monuments on the Capitol Mall. Reading about a historical site or event is great, but it becomes so much more when you have the experience of being in the place that history was made. The part of the trip that I think will have the most impact on me personally is getting to experience a Presidential Inauguration in person. I, like many other people, have watched previous ceremonies on television, but it is a truly life-altering experience to witness one in our nation's capitol. I look forward to the pomp and circumstance of the whole affair.”