Lisa Hazirjian has a train to catch this weekend. And even before she boards, the Case Western Reserve University lecturer knows she's about to embark on the ride of a lifetime.
Hazirjian is one of 16 "everyday Americans" invited to ride the pre-inauguration whistle stop tour of President-elect Barack Obama Saturday, January 17, on its way to Washington, D.C.
"The decision to include everyday Americans in the inauguration reflects Barack Obama's understanding that the citizens of this nation are just as important a part of our political fabric as our highest governmental officials," the history lecturer and SAGES postdoctoral fellow says. "Collectively, we all have a vital role to play in solving our problems."
She adds that the group on the train ride represents the grassroots nature of the campaign, as well as the diversity of the coalition that Barack Obama has brought together.
And it's the hard work as a volunteer at the grassroots level that earned Hazirjian and her partner, Michelle, seats on the train when it leaves from Philadelphia on Saturday morning.
As a leading campaign volunteer, Hazirjian helped organize other volunteers from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Ohio and Pennsylvania in support of the Obama campaign. There were over 6,500 campaign volunteers from the LGBT community statewide.
She said the amount of volunteer time by that group during the campaign was second only to organized labor.
Hazirjian also serves as an at-large board member of Equality Ohio, a member of Cleveland Stonewall Democrats and a volunteer for Cleveland Families Count.
The one-day tour begins in Philadelphia and will stop in Wilmington, Del., to pick up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family, and then continue to Baltimore, Md., for a speech before arriving in Washington, D.C.
Once in Washington, 40 members of the traveling party—which includes the supporters and their immediate families—will take part in a number of inaugural activities. These activities include programs, luncheons, galas and balls, and VIP seating at the inaugural ceremony in front of the Capitol building. They also will appear on stage with the president and vice-president during events.
"It's an incredible opportunity," says Hazirjian. "We are tremendously honored to be part of the inaugural events."
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.