CHEC student @ Inaugural Presidential Address - Columbia Heights Educational Campus

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CONTACT: Robin Winer
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CHEC Student, Juan Rodriguez, is First Lady’s Guest at Presidential Address

Washington, DC February 25, 2009 –   At the invitation of First Lady Michelle Obama, Bell Sophomore Juan Rodriguez attended the President’s address to the joint session of Congress and the Nation on the evening of February 24.   Juan originally met the First Lady on February 10 when she visited a neighborhood after-school program and invited him and two other students to sit with her in the first lady’s box for the President’s speech.  

A local Columbia Heights resident and a member of Bell’s ROTC program, Juan’s favorite subject is history and he has a great interest in joining the military.   He was therefore very interested in the President’s words and all that he saw, visiting both the Capitol and the White House in the course of the evening.  His journey began on the 10, when the First Lady visited Mary’s Center after school program where Juan serves as a youth advocate and peer health educator.  Juan dedicates 6 hours a week to community service and asked the first lady about how she might help the community with problems of violence.  This moment led to a call on the evening of the 24 when he was asked if he would like to join two other students and the first lady witness the President’s speech.  

His first stop was to the “Theater Room” at the Capitol, where he met with Mrs. Obama and several other guests from around the country who would be joining the first lady for the evening.   The gathering was then escorted to the Capitol for the speech and all returned afterward to the White House for a reception and to meet the President.   One of the highlights of Juan’s memorable evening was shaking the President’s hand.   Of the First Lady, Juan stated that “she is the kindest woman I have ever met, she immediately shook my hand and gave me a hug.”

Hearing the President first-hand, Juan was encouraged by his “focus on the children of the future and the idea that a lot of people who do not have health care would be able to find assistance.”  Juan is concerned about the high dropout rate in schools and believes that parents should be active in educating their children.  For him the President’s words were a call for community service.   He “felt good” about meeting important politicians and discovered within himself a new interest for politics.

Throughout the evening Juan’s experience was seasoned with a reverent sense of history; the architecture, objects of art, seeing people he had previously only seen on TV and the presence of “President Obama, a man who changed history.”   Speaking from his experience, Juan wants to encourage others to participate in community service and suggests that their doing so may lead them to new and exciting places.  

His evening with the First Lady made “him proud to be an American” and made him love this country even more.

ACE Mentoring Program
Akin Gum Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Arent Fox LLP
Bancroft Foundation
British Council
Camp Horizons
Catalogue for Philanthropy
CityBridge Foundation
Collaborative Solutions for Communities
Courtyard by Marriott Convention Center
D.C. College Access Program (DC-CAP)
D.C. Department of Health and Human Services
D.C. Office of Early Childhoon Education
D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education
D.C. Public Schools
Denihan Hospitality Group
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Department the Treasury
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Embassy of France
Embassy of Italy
Embassy of the United Arab Emirates
Gala Hispanic Theatre
George Washington University
Global Kids
Flamboyan Foundation

Hilton Worldwide
Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.
Howard University
Inter-American Development Bank
Justice Grants Administration
The Kennedy Center
LaSalle Hotel Properties
Lois and Richard England Family Foundation
The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott Foundation
University of Maryland – College Park
Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs
Montgomery College
National Symphony Orchestra
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Rotary Club of Washington, DC
Residence Inn Marriott
SER-Jobs for Progress
State Farm
University of the District of Columbia
Urban Alliance
Wilderness Leadership and Learning
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