A group of University students say they were among the first to arrive outside the White House gates after President Barack Obama announced Osama bin Laden’s death late Sunday night.

About 60 University students from the Ross School of Business are studying in Washington D.C. this week as part of the University’s Carson Scholars program which grants participants course credits. Many of the students were in their hotel rooms when they heard the leader of the Sept. 11 attacks was dead.

Even before Obama made the official announcement, Business seniors Ifat Ribon, Karen Zelby and Mariya Pojidaev rushed out of their hotel room shortly after turning on the news.

“We went literally sprinting down toward the White House,” Zelby said.

Pojidaev said when they got there around 11:30 p.m., a small group of University of Michigan students were gathered at the gates before thousands of people flooded the area.

“It was amazing watching the crowd grow,” Pojidaev said. “It’s always great to see the country come together because we’re always so divided on so many issues, and it’s times like these that make you proud to be an American.”

The students described the scene as a sea of red, white and blue. Ribon said the crowd consisted mostly of college-aged students, many of whom were taking pictures and climbing poles to hang American flags.

While celebrants shouted “USA” in chants of jubilation and led rounds of the national anthem, Zelby said she and some of the University students sang “Hail to the Victors.”

“It was honestly one of the best times in my life,” she said.

Business junior Andrew Eisbrouch was part of a group who ran to the White House after the president finished his speech.

“We were lucky enough to be in D.C. this week,” Eisbrouch said. “(We) saw what was going on and figured we better take this opportunity because it will definitely be a historical moment we will remember for the rest of our lives.”

Eisbrouch, who arrived in Washington D.C. Sunday morning for the Carson Scholars program, said he’s grateful he was in the capital when the news broke and got to witness the reaction of people on the streets.

“It’s like a national high for everybody just being in the city right now,” he said.

Obama announced in a televised statement last night that bin Laden was killed in a compound in Pakistan. According to The Associated Press, the al-Qaida leader was shot in the head in a firefight started by a Navy SEAL team and military counter-terrorism unit.

No Americans or civilians were injured, but three adult males — including one of bin Laden’s sons — were killed in the attack. The U.S. is now in custody of bin Laden’s body.

Ribon said bin Laden’s death is a “big accomplishment” for the United States and that she hopes it will have a positive impact on the country.

“We’ve been after this for a very long time now,” she said. “It’s definitely a big deal, and I hope that it means this is the beginning of a better future.”

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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