Dispatch from DC: Inauguration Politics with Professor Kate Knutson

Gusties witnessed both the inauguration and the Women’s March during their January class, Inauguration Politics
Posted on January 23rd, 2017 by

Gustavus students on the morning of the inauguration. (Photos submitted by Sarah Knutson '20.)

Fifteen Gustie students and their professor witnessed both the inauguration of President Donald Trump and the D.C. location of the Women’s March during their January Interim Experience course, Inauguration Politics.

Catching up with Knutson and her students in D.C. (as well as Brittany Bauer ’11 and Kaleb Rumicho ’09), the inauguration and Women’s March have emerged as true highlights of the trip so far.

“Be a part of history. That was the goal,” said Knutson. “And seeing those two sides of the spectrum face to face and back to back has been really interesting.”

“No matter what you believe in, witnessing it is a very special thing.”

The Gustavus group visits the diplomatic suite at the U.S. State Department.

Knutson’s class is the second of its kind for her at Gustavus. The first, in 2009, had Gusties witnessing the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Alum Bauer was a student in that class. “That experience inspired me to work for the federal government,” she said. She is now an international trade specialist for the International Trade Administration.   

Gustie students will leave D.C. on Wednesday, having met and learned from alums living and working throughout Washington. To date, they have sat down with alums working for the State Department, including Barbara Day ’75, who leads refugee resettlement efforts, and Thomas Lersten ’88, who directs global entrepreneurship. They learned from Stephani Abramson ’93, Counsel for Procurement and Employment Law at the National Archives. They visited Paula Johnson ’76, who curates the division of Work and Industry at the American History Museum. In between alum and lawmaker meetings, the class toured national monuments and watched Congress in action. 

And they caught up with current and former Gustie congressional staffers, including Landon Zinda ’07 (Tom Emmer), Kate deGruyter ’07 (former staff for Luis V. Gutiérrez), and Joe Carlile ’02 (House Appropriations Committee). Of the meetings with congressional staffers, “It was great to hear their stories,” says Tim Watts ’17. “I could see my friends’ personalities really clicking with theirs,”—confirmation that the political process and a life working within it is in reach for those who choose.

Before students leave, they will visit with Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Minnesota Representatives Tom Emmer and Tim Walz, and a newly-elected Representative from Michigan and Gustavus alumnus Jack Bergman ’69.

“It was amazing to be a part of history,” said Anna Johnson ’18. “Someday this will be in the history books, and we are here now.”


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One Comment

  1. Jeff L.Marshall says:

    Dr.William Robertz took a group of us from Gustavus to Washington,D.C. in 1973 during January Term. We studied Welfare Reform and attended Richard Nixon’s second inauguration.Hard to believe it was 44 years ago! Jeff Marshall ’75