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Hope, Concern And Everything In Between: Contemplating A Trump Presidency

Pictures of voters
Min Xian
Christy Carfagno (bottom left), Natasha Ferguson (top right) and Kendra Hale (bottom right) shared their hopes and concerns for the new administration.

In a sense, Inauguration Day resembles the New Year: making resolutions and welcoming a new era with a concert and fireworks. Among State College residents, asked about the new administration, there’s hope, concern and everything in between.

Sam Richards teaches race and ethnic relations in the sociology department at Penn State.

“I think we are in for a very interesting four years," he said. "And I suspect that there’s never going to be a dull moment.”

Christy Carfagno is a senior also from the sociology department.

“I’m in relatively a good place about it," Carfagno said. "America will be fine; people are worried and that’s fine.”

Carfagno said that inequality—whether based on gender, race or LGBTQ issues—is her main concern. But as a sociology major, she thinks debates or conflicts aren’t necessarily bad.

“I enjoy seeing people become more passionate about their causes," Carfagno said. "I think it connects people and stirs things up, especially millennials. We can be kind of boring sometimes.”

Kendra Hale is a Penn State freshman studying architectural engineering. Hale’s mother is a public school teacher, and Hale said she was frustrated to learn about Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education.

Hale recalled growing up in the public education system. “I mean, public education already isn’t at the best place, and having an advocate for private only, religious education on the top of where we do policy making for it is not a good thing.”

Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos had her confirmation hearing this week. DeVos is a strong advocate for charter schools, which worries Hale.

“So, I am just concerned about whether public education is going to suffer from a lack of interest in it from the administration,” Hale said.

Natasha Ferguson is a freshman in industrial engineering. She said it’s really difficult to tell what the next four years will be like.

“Definitely one of my biggest concerns is a lot of his economic policies. One thing you learn in Econ is the overall economic stance of the country gets better with free trade. Free trade is one of the best ways to move the economy forward," Ferguson said. "And he’s trying to go back and stop that, in a way.”

On the other hand, it is exactly Trump’s promise to regulate trade and to keep jobs in the U.S. that earns him a lot of support.

Amy Schirf is one of the supporters.

“I am all for lower taxes, more jobs, keeping jobs here," Schirf said. "I am a conservative so I’m pretty excited about it.”

Schirf works at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority. She voted for Trump and said she has zero concerns about him.

“I don’t think things are going to change as much as everyone thinks they are," Schirf said. "I definitely gave President Obama a chance, and I would like to give him a chance, too.”

Neither the enthusiasm nor the frustration is likely to cease in the coming years. With these mixed feelings, Sam Richards sends a cheerful message.

“There’s always hope," Richards said. "I think it’s quite possible that we will look back and say, wow, this was a real pivotal moment in U.S. history, and feel positive about it.”

And his resolution for the new era?

"Care. And have conversations with the people around me."

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