Obama at NTC: A Firsthand Experience
by Andy Straub on February 25th, 2008
(A Note from Dino: We were pleased as punch to find out that one of the students who attended the Barack Obama rally in Wausau was a friend of ours. Then we found out that he had a chance to spend some time with the candidate as well. We thank Andy Straub (not Laub) for giving us this narrative. We also hope to see more students from NTC become a part of CW as we think that NTC is a crucial part of our community.)
Last Thursday started just like any other day. I woke up, went to class, and then had some lunch before I headed off to work. While eating lunch, I received a call from Shawn Sullivan, who works at NTC as the director of Student Life. He told me that he had just been informed that Senator Obama was coming to NTC early in the morning on February 16. He told me that some students were invited to be present at this event, and that mine had been one of the names mentioned. The following day, Shawn informed me that two students were going to be selected, by Obama’s people, to be up in front of the room with the Senator. Shawn told me that I was one of the eight students that he had submitted a short biography for, and that the rest was up to them. Later that night I received a call from one of Obama’s aides. She informed me that I had been selected to be in front of the crowd with Senator Obama. She went on to explain that I and another student would be meeting directly with Senator Obama, going on a brief tour of the college with him, and then he would be sitting down with us and asking us questions. She then made sure that I would be okay with the fact that this would be a media covered event and that cameras would be following us around the whole time. I accepted the offer and waited in anticipation for Saturday.
Saturday arrived and I got to NTC early to make sure I had enough time to get through security. Soon, Obama’s aide met up with me and the other student, Kimberly Whitewater, and told us to go with her to get ready for the Senator’s arrival. We then were briefed by the aide and waited for the Senator to arrive. The first thing that I thought when I saw Senator Obama was that I expected him to be taller. Not that he was short, just that he seemed much taller on TV than in person. When he greeted me, he came across as calm, collected, and sincere in being glad to meet me. We then went on the tour, where he asked me questions about what I did at the school and how I felt about the learning environment. After the tour, we proceeded into the press area where the main event would occur. We sat down, Senator Obama presented a brief speech, and then he sat down to talk to Kim and me. He asked me a question and I could tell that he was really listening by his body language and eye contact. We continued to have a very laid-back conversation and at no time did it feel uncomfortable to be in front of a crowd with the Senator. The whole ordeal was quiet the experience. Senator Obama reignited my feelings that a presidential candidate can care about the people voting for them and not just their vote. I feel confident that he is a good presidential candidate and this is an honor I won’t soon forget.