CSU Freshman Attends Historic Inaugural Conference

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University freshman Alana Walker has been a young woman on the move in recent years, and she's thrilled that her next stop will have her witness Tuesday's presidential inauguration.

Alana WalkerWalker, 18, a health sciences major at Columbus State, caught a flight Friday to attend the Jan. 17-21 University Presidential Inaugural Conference in Washington, D.C.

'I am very blessed, grateful and excited to be participating in this historic event,' said Walker, of Fort Mitchell, Ala.

She qualified for the conference and received a full scholarship to cover all expenses, minus travel, as an alumnus of the Congressional Youth Leadership Council. At the time of her selection last January, she understood the significance of the conference but not that the incoming president would be the same person for whom she cast her first vote.

'I never would have dreamed that this amazing opportunity would be something that I would be a part of,' Walker said.

She gives much credit for her opportunity to a teacher at Russell County High School, Dorothy Lowe, who nominated her to attend the National Young Leaders Conference, held in Washington in 2006 by the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, which strives to give high-achieving sophomores, juniors and seniors a greater understanding of their roles in democracy and the responsibilities of leadership.

Maintaining a 4.0 GPA in high school, Walker also was active in organizations such as the Debate Team, Future Business Leaders of America, Beta Club and Family Career and Community Leaders of America. She also ran track, volunteered at the Columbus Regional Medical Center and participated in Girl Scouts. Through the Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry and Pastoral Institute's Infusion program, she helped build a church in the Appalachian Mountains in 2007 and Habitat for Humanity homes for Hurricane Katrina victims in 2008.

Besides a guaranteed seat at the inauguration, next week's conference also offers her a chance to hear from such speakers as Colin Powell, Al Gore and Lance Armstrong. Her group will also be granted private access to the Smithsonian Institution on Inauguration Day and have reserved spots on the Pennsylvania Avenue motorcade route. Inauguration day will conclude with her conference's own 'black tie gala.'

Columbus State students, faculty and staff will be able to watch the inauguration and keep an eye out for Walker at a University Hall viewing event organized by Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Walker already has a growing list of friends and family to keep posted by cell phone.