Witnessing History

Vickie Berkow, a junior history major, attends the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.

By Frank Radosevich II
January 23, 2013

Early Monday morning Vickie Berkow made her way to the nation’s capital, weaving through crowds and security checkpoints, before finding her seat in Section 11 at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

There, along with some one million other spectators, she witnessed history as President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term.

“It was great. I had such an amazing time,” Berkow said. “I was lucky that I had a seat.”

Berkow, a junior history major, was in Washington, D.C. to participate in The Washington Center’s seminar, “Inside Washington.” For two weeks, she talked about news coverage with media experts, met students from across the nation, toured some of the country’s best museums and caught a glimpse of the president.

“D.C. is a very interesting place. It’s a fast-paced city that’s the center of many things,” said Berkow, a native of Arlington Heights, Ill.

At the inauguration, Berkow was fortunate to receive tickets from the office of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock ’02. Whereas her friends from the Washington Center program had to wake up early to secure a spot at the ceremony, Berkow’s ticket guaranteed her a seat in front of the U.S. Capitol. She was able to view the presidential swearing-in ceremony led by Chief Justice John Roberts, followed by Obama’s inaugural speech.

Each year, students participate in The Washington Center seminars to get an inside look at the federal government while earning course credit at Bradley. The experiential learning opportunity brings education to life and is a chance for these active student leaders to see how a leadership position at Bradley might develop into a long-term commitment to public service.

In D.C., Berkow heard from leaders in the media industry, including the founder and head of C-SPAN Brian Lamb and Owen Ullmann, the deputy managing editor for news at USA Today, who told her to follow her dreams.

“It was reassuring to hear an editor from USA Today say that to me,” she said.

She also visited the Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism, and other sights around the capital. Berkow, who works for the Bradley Scout, said the speakers and visits reaffirmed her career interests in the working for a museum or in the news industry. The program, she said, is well worth a student’s time.

“Whether you are interested in spending 10 days or a whole semester, I would definitely encourage people to explore The Washington Center program,” she said.