I get to see the president!!!!!!!!!

I get to see the president!!!!!!!!!

That was my reaction to the news that I would be one of the five from Ivy Tech Northeast to attend President Barack Obama’s speech at Ivy Tech’s Indianapolis campus Feb. 6. Chancellor Jerrilee Mosier called me and asked if I could be away from my desk that day. Um. *Checks calendar and sees nothing more important than THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES* Yes! YES!!! Where do I sign?

REALLY excited selfie with the president at the podium

REALLY excited selfie with the president at the podium

Then I had to get ready. I dusted off my black suit. I dug in my closet for stylish shoes but ended up wearing my granny shoes so I wouldn’t fall on the ice. Dyed my hair so the purple would be bright enough to see on the television cameras. Called my mom.

That day, I rode to Indy with Deanna Surfus, who teaches in the English department. When we arrived, we had to drive around the block because we somehow missed the squad of police cars that obviously marked the building. Getting through security was shockingly quick and easy, and there were only a handful of protesters, waving around signs about taxes.

The room was smaller than I expected. Maybe 150 people total with a large backdrop that said “Middle Class Economics” and a podium. We waited more than two hours. When it was time for the show, I said the Pledge of Allegiance for probably the first time in 15 years, sang the National Anthem, and cheered for the president like he was a Beatle.

OK. The president looks exactly the same in real life as he does on TV. Only taller. He also sounds the same. Only funnier.

Click on the images for caption info.

While I was listening to him talk about his plans to make community college available to everyone, I reflected on other times we’d crossed paths:

  • My first act of civic engagement was canvassing Fort Wayne neighborhoods for his campaign.
  • The first time I felt real, American, want-to-wave-a-flag patriotism was on the morning of Nov. 4, 2008. I was standing there, along Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., two months later as his limo arrived at the inauguration ceremony. I drank a beer and watched the ceremony on a tiny TV surrounded by D.C. locals. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we watched our nation swear in its first black president.
  • I was annoyed, then proud, when President Obama interrupted my Sunday evening television with a special report that Osama Bin Laden was no longer a threat to our safety.
  • I was shocked when he announced his support for marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Fast forward to June 2014, and my partner and I wed a couple miles from our home in a state I was sure would be the last hold-out.

So while we sat there and listened to the most powerful man on earth talk about tax loopholes and his basketball game (by his own admission, it ain’t what it used to be), I realized that being POTUS must be the toughest and most thankless job on earth.

As we enter another election year, I hope that—regardless of your politics—you can share my deep respect for the office of the president and the men (and, hopefully soon, women) who have held it.

Check out more about Obama’s visit to Ivy Tech here.

Aja Michael-Keller,
Marketing and Communications

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