Desert Vista senior Rachael Clark got an opportunity few in America receive, let alone a teenager.
Clark, student body president at the high school that hosted President Barack Obama on Tuesday, spent a minute visiting with the president prior to his address before hundreds in the school’s gymnasium.
“I shook his hand five times,” Clark said, beaming after the visit. “I was amazed. He was the most humble person. He was so encouraging. He knew just what to say.”
In the days leading up to the president’s visit, Clark helped assemble 60 volunteers from her fellow students, she said. She also learned she would have a minute to speak with the president and get a photo taken by an official White House photographer.
“I asked him how being president changed his perspective of the world,” she said afterward. “He said it made him more optimistic.”
“It was the best experience I’ve had in my life,” she continued.
Clark and Desert Vista’s senior class president Steven Elisala, both 17 year olds, shared their experiences with members of the local media on Tuesday.
Elisala led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I think this experience encourages me to chase my dreams, whether its political or in business, to really try,” Elisala said afterward. He missed being on stage with the president by just a few seconds, he said, so he did not get to meet Obama.
“I’ll take from this that even a kid like me can still listen to the President in person and even though I’m a teen, right now I can believe I can become President of the United States.”
Elisala plans to attend Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business next fall. Clark plans to study veterinary science, but said she didn’t rule out a future career in politics.
Clark said she did make one request to the president, who was flying to California after his Arizona stop.
“I asked him to give a shout out to Desert Vista on Leno,” she said.
Obama was scheduled to appear on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno Tuesday night.
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