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Oles at the inauguration

By Kari VanDerVeen
January 22, 2013

Greta Johnson '14 (left) and Norma Romero '14 stand in front of the stage at the inaugural ball they attended. The two are participating in the Washington Semester Program at American University.

Just weeks after arriving in Washington, D.C., to begin a semester-long program focused on studying government in action, St. Olaf College students Norma Romero '14 and Greta Johnson '14 stood on the National Mall and watched President Barack Obama take the oath of office.

The two, who are participating in the Washington Semester Program at American University, also attended one of the two inaugural balls later that evening.

"It was exciting to be part of history and to see such an amazing part of the political process right before our eyes," Johnson says. "It still hasn't set in that we were actually there."

St. Olaf participates in the Washington Semester Program in cooperation with American University. It's one of 110 off-campus programs offered at St. Olaf. Students selected to participate in the program complete a seminar, internship, and individual research project — all while living and learning in the nation's capital.

Romero is majoring in political science and history at St. Olaf, and Johnson in political science. Both are studying American politics this semester. Romero hopes to develop a career focused on public policy, education, and lobbying. Johnson is interested in campaigns and elections, as well as law enforcement.

The students obtained tickets to the inauguration through U.S. Rep. John Kline's office.

"While watching President Obama's first inauguration, we never would have imagined we would be there four years later," Johnson says.

Read about another Ole with ties to the inauguration events.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or