Bearkats Attend Governor's Inauguration
Jan. 27, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Mike Yawn
Photo courtesy of Mike Yawn - Attendees included: Victoria McClendon-Leggett, Makayla Mason, Maggie Denena, Jezel Luna, Mackenzie Smith, Brittany Gibson, Anne Jamarik, Yvana Kepnga, Ilexus Williams, Karen Tinajero, Peyton Reed, Monica Dike and Jordan Davis.
Seated in spots reserved for Texas State legislators and their staff, thirteen Sam Houston State University students watched the inauguration of Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
After the Bearkats witnessed Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick entered the dais under an arch of swords, the pageantry of the ceremony continued with a military flyover. Then, Texas Appeals Court Justice Don Willett administered the oath of office to Lieutenant Governor Patrick. He was introduced by Senators Jane Nelson (R) and John Whitmire (D), who called him a “Senator’s Lieutenant Governor.” The bipartisan introduction punctuated Patrick’s theme of unity, which he further emphasized by briefly bringing Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen to the podium with him.
The show of unity was complete when Abbott took the stage. After a 19-gun salute, and being sworn in by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht on the “Sam Houston Bible,” Governor Abbott reinforced many of the same policy positions as Patrick: increased pay for teachers, reform of the public school finance system, reduction of property taxes, and continued recovery from Hurricane Harvey. Drawing on his own experience as a man “whose back was broken in two” but still won election as Governor, Abbott struck a chord with the crowd with his theme that, “In Texas, anything is possible."
Two of the Sam Houston State students, Victoria McClendon-Leggett and Makayla Mason, are LEAP (Law, Engagement And Politics) ambassadors, who traveled to Austin specifically to see the inauguration. The other 11—Maggie Denena, Jezel Luna, Mackenzie Smith, Brittany Gibson, Anne Jamarik, Yvana Kepnga, Ilexus Williams, Karen Tinajero, Peyton Reed, Monica Dike and Jordan Davis—are part of the Sam Houston Austin Internship Program (SHAIP).
“It was exciting to watch the inauguration and be a small part of the democratic process in Texas,” noted McClendon-Leggett, president of the LEAP Ambassadors. “The up-close-and-personal perspective definitely complements my classroom learning at SHSU.”
While pundits listened closely to the legislative priorities of Texas’s two highest-ranking officials, the bi-partisan group of LEAP Ambassadors and SHAIP Interns (seven Democrats; six Republicans) soaked it all in.
“We learn something new every day in the Capitol," said SHSU student Ilexus Williams, who is interning with Representative Armando Martinez. "It’s definitely a classroom that enriches, and today was the most interesting day, thus far, of the session.”
Although inauguration activities such as a barbeque and the Inaugural Ball continued throughout the day and into the evening, the Austin interns had tasks that beckoned. With the bulk of a 140-day legislative session ahead of them, they returned to their offices, armed with a new experience and the belief that anything is possible.
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