Sam Houston State University students attend gubernatorial inauguration

Sam Houston State University Political Science Professor and LEAP Center Director Mike Yawn called it a 48-hour “democracy tour.”
KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 6:42 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KBTX) - As Texas Governor Greg Abbott took his oath of office Tuesday afternoon several Sam Houston State University students had the opportunity to watch it in person.

The SHSU students who attended the gubernatorial inauguration were there for what Sam Houston State University Political Science Professor and LEAP Center Director Mike Yawn called a 48-hour “democracy tour.” Since 2005 the Bearkats have attended every presidential inauguration and every gubernatorial inauguration since 2007. In total there were 15 students present, nine of which interned at the capitol in Austin through the Sam Houston Austin Internship Program (SHAIP) run by the LEAP Center.

Students on the “tour” were signed up well before a winner was declared in the race for governor, Yawn said.

“It’s not about who the governor is, we’re not here in opposition or in support,” Yawn said. “We’re here in support of the democratic process of a peaceful transition of power.”

SHSU students kicked off the tour on Monday by placing 250 flags in downtown Huntsville with the Lions Club. They traveled to Austin on Tuesday where they kayaked and visited the LBJ Presidential Library along with the Texas Supreme Court.

“We really think of this as a wonderful way for the students to get a true civic education,” Yawn said.

For SHSU student Elaine Morrison the “tour” was an eye-opening experience.

“You can only learn so much in a classroom,” Morrison said. “Getting to actually watch the inauguration, getting to watch the tradition is very awesome. Getting to see the democratic process work and getting to support it by being here has been really amazing.”

It was SHSU student Cinthia Villarreal’s second time being in Austin. She said this was her first time learning about the state government and the democratic process.

“It really is a great opportunity and experience,” Villarreal said. “We’re really grateful for Same Houston State and the SHAIP Program that were able to be here.”

At the end of the “tour,” Yawn said he hopes it piques students’ interest in the democratic process and they realize there are careers in public service where they can make the world a better place.

“I also just hope whatever career they go in they have a better understanding of how the process works, so they’ll be more successful in whatever goal they choose to pursue,” Yawn said.

Morrison said what she hopes to take away from the “tour” is that there are a lot of opportunities to change the world for the better.

“I just switched my major to business management, so going on this trip I didn’t know if there would be a place for me here,” Morrison said. “Now I’ve gotten to see that there is a place for everything in law and there is a place to change everything through legislation.”

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