Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Day in the Life at Carolina: Introducing the President

Domonique introducing President Obama to a crowd of 8,000 
Today we share the story of our own Domonique Garland, a senior at Carolina and a leader within the Admissions Ambassador program for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions:

On Thursday, April 19, I received a call from the Chancellor’s Office asking if I would be interested in introducing the President of the United States during his visit to campus the next week. Of course, I had to say yes while silently screaming and jumping up and down in my apartment. The Office told me that I would meet with them the next day and they would collect information so that President Obama’s administration could decide who they actually wanted for the introduction. On Sunday, April 22, I received a call from the White House saying that I was chosen to give the introduction for President Obama. I literally ran into every room in my apartment jumping, screaming, dancing, flipping, and anything else you can imagine. Then I called my mom and for the next 30 minutes all I heard was screaming through the phone as she was jumping on her bed. The next 48 hours flew by fast. I had to write my speech, get it edited, practice, re-work the speech, practice some more and go to dress rehearsal.

The dress rehearsal was like a walk-through of how the program would go. I was warmly welcomed by the UNC coordinator, the publicist for UNC, the coordinator for the administration, as well as some of the Secret Service. I was also grateful to see another familiar face, Will Leimenstoll, who is a fellow Ambassador and just won the election for Student Body President. Tuesday was the big day and when I say big, that is still an understatement. I was able to invite my family to the speech and they were elated. Finally, it was time for me to go down into the corridor. When I entered the corridor, the Secret Service was all around. The program began and it was amazing to watch the program from where I was standing and to see the background work of something that seems to just happen so easily. All of a sudden a huge crowd was walking toward me and in the midst of this crowd was President Barack Obama. I just stood there in awe. He went into the back hallway first to take pictures with the ROTC representatives, and then they said “Domonique, it is your time.” The President of the United States came out, gave me a hug, took pictures with me, and then asked about what I was doing. Right before I went on stage he said “Are you ready?” I replied, “Are you ready?” He laughed and said “Yes" and I replied, “Then I am too!”

My name was announced as I walked out of the corridor. Just that short conversation with the President calmed my nerves so much that I was not nervous when I went on stage to do the speech.

After I completed my speech, the President walked on stage and gave me a hug. Then I walked off and as I was doing so, I heard him mention my name and say that I would be a great teacher. It was literally like a dream.

The whole day just did not feel real and even today I am still amazed and thrilled that I was able to have this opportunity.

--Domonique Garland, '12 (Elementary Education)