Students snag invitations to Obama’s big night

Thousands of students will celebrate at GW’s Inaugural Ball next week, while two students share the dance floor with the first family.

Sophomore Ross Rattanasena snagged a ticket to one of President Barack Obama’s two presidential inaugural balls this year through his internship at a nearby embassy. He said cheering on the president, and now celebrating his historic second win with him, will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I was a huge supporter of Obama,” Rattanasena said, adding that he admires Obama’s rise-to-the-top background and his support of LGBT rights. “So the fact that this is his last term, he is reelected and I have the opportunity to go to his inauguration means a lot to me.”

Media Credit: Jordan Emont | Photo Editor
Sophomore Ross Rattanasena picked up a ticket to President Barack Obama’s official inauguration ball through his internship at an embassy.

Both the Inaugural Ball and the Commander-in-Chief’s ball – reserved for military families – will be held at the Washington Convention Center, which held six balls to commemorate the last swearing-in ceremony. The Inaugural Ball is expected to draw about 35,000 guests, taking up most of the 703,000-square-foot building.

Rattanasena has been practicing how to introduce himself to the special guests: Obama, the first lady and Beyoncé. He said he hopes to meet all three.

“That’d be the highlight of my life right there,” Rattanasena said.

Junior Ivanka Farrell said celebrating the weekend’s inauguration will feel particularly sweet knowing she helped bolster the reelection campaign. Farrell took a semester off to work for the Obama for America campaign headquarters in Chicago.

For eight months, she spent her 20-hour work days managing ads through Facebook and Twitter and tracking the Romney camp’s digital moves.

She will earn a payoff for her months of hard work – attending both the official Inaugural Ball on Monday and the Obama for America Staff Ball the next night. It will be “like a second victory night” she said, only with 48 hours of celebration.

Farrell secured the much-coveted ticket to the official ball, from a Presidential Inaugural Committee email sent to Obama for America staff. She was later offered extra tickets to the ball and will be bringing a group of her GW friends.

GW student Emily Samsel and alumna Madeline Twomey, who both also worked at Obama for America headquarters this summer, will also attend the staff-only ball.

Farrell is hopeful that she’ll get a second chance to see Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the staff ball. The duo attended the staff ball in 2009, but their attendance this year has not yet been confirmed. Superstar acts at this year’s inauguration events include fun., Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, Usher, Smokey Robinson and Brad Paisley.

A number of public tickets were also set aside for the ball – all of which were sold out before the official on-sale time due to a Ticketmaster glitch that put the $60 tickets up for grabs online Jan. 3.

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