"It was history-making in 2009 with the first black president of the United States being sworn in," Thompson said. "There was a tremendously celebratory mood around the Capitol, and it was awesome to be part of the crowd."
In 2008, the director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission contacted Harding's Executive Vice President Jim Carr about the opportunity. The commission is again sponsoring and organizing this year's trip as well as the McNair program and the Office of Student Services.
"It's a great cultural and civic experience," Thompson said. "It's an adventure and opportunity to see history in the making."
The nine students to attend the inauguration are participants in the McNair Scholars Program, which provides students with academically enriching experiences and mentoring to encourage them to pursue graduate and doctoral work.
All McNair scholars must be either first-generation and low-income college students or students underrepresented in graduate school.