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Locals excited to watch inaugural from a distance

Students at Xavier University watch the inaugural on campus. Students at Xavier University watch the inaugural on campus.

New Orleans, La. — Before hundreds of thousands of people, the public swearing-in of President Barack Obama unfolded Monday afternoon in the nation's capital.  And hundreds of miles away in the city of New Orleans, where the temperatures were much warmer, students at local universities were engaged in inaugural watch parties.

"It's a powerful feeling.  It's like, wow, we've come a long way. We still have a way to go, but we've come a long way and its powerful, a type of honor that you feel. It's appreciation for all the hard work and dedication," said Xavier student Janice McIntosh.

For some of the female students, seeing the first daughters, Malia and Sasha, walk out of the Capitol before the ceremony was a big thrill. "They're such an inspiration for young girls and they're so well mannered, well behaved, poised, like, it's refreshing to see," said Nikki Odofin, this year's Miss Xavier University.

Uptown at Loyola University, there was another attentive gathering of students.

"I was in high school four years ago and it definitely feels pretty special because I was involved in the campaign for Obama.  So to see all my hard work pay off is definitely exciting," said Loyola student Nico Connolly as he watched the inaugural in the school's Danna Center.

"I think President Barack Obama is a very inspirational speaker, and he really just gives life to whatever he says to the community," said Dwann Wagner, also a student at Loyola.

Political Science major Carmen Rucker, also worked to get the president re-elected.  "It's good to see that he's back for another four years, I'm very happy about that, just proud of him really," Rucker said.

And while the students expressed elation, they are also looking for more progress in tackling the nation's problems.

"Find a way to fix the economy," urged John Joyce, a Xavier student.

"Hopefully immigration reform, changes in the education system in this country and much more," said Nicholas Armstrong, a student at Loyola University, naming his policy priorities.

Many of the students at the watch parties said they also want less partisan bickering.  "I think that's one of the most important things that we need to have, a more united front in this country," said Loyola student Anna Graston.

University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak thinks the president's second term will be a bumpy ride.  "Just because he gave the inauguration speech today doesn't mean that Republican opposition is going to suddenly melt away," Chervenak said.

Chervenak said gun control, immigration reform and the national debt are sure to spawn fierce fights in Washington.

"Right now he can enjoy the glow and all the high expectations and he may have a short honeymoon period, but it's still going to be a very, very tough ride for the last four years," said Chervenak.

Still, on the college campuses, those watching the inaugural were optimistic on a day with two-fold celebrations, as the nation also remembered Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

"Today is a really monumental day for me. It's like power on both ends.  It's kind of like a remembrance and an honor to the past and like a progression into the future," said Odofin.

The president used the slain civil rights leader's Bible during his oath of office, as well as Abraham Lincoln's Bible.

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