Don't Double My Rate! An Opportunity to Meet President Obama

Don't Double My Rate! An Opportunity to Meet President Obama

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Maha Neouchy
June 29, 2012

Michael Salmeri, a summer intern and Florida Atlantic University student, was given a remarkable and unique opportunity. Due to his participation during a special Student Lobby Day, which was organized to prevent a 3% increase in student loan interest rates, Salmeri was invited to attend a hearing about the issue at the White House. Little did he know, he would be given a once in a lifetime opportunity: the chance to meet President Obama. His story represents the endless opportunities that students are given during internship experiences in Washington, D.C., a city where they can discover history in the making!


TWC sat down with Salmeri to discuss the experience:


TWC: You're currently an intern with the National Education Association (NEA). What has your internship experience been like so far?


Salmeri: Interning at the NEA has been phenomenal. They give all their interns great projects, levy out responsibility and trust us. For example, yesterday I went to the Supreme Court at 10 a.m. and heard the ruling on the health care mandate. We also work very closely with Campus Progress, an organization the NEA organized Student Lobby Day with. That event was the reason I was given access to Obama's hearing on student interest rates at the White House.


TWC: Can you tell TWC more about the opportunity with President Obama and discuss the series of events leading up to your meeting with him?


Salmeri: Two weeks ago, we were invited to the White House for a hearing on student loan interest rates and how they were increasing from 3.4 to 6.8 percent in less than nine days. That's why the NEA decided to work with Campus Progress to organize a Student Lobby Day, where interns from around the country interning in D.C. split into different state groups to lobby the issue. I was given the opportunity to meet with the offices of Bill Nelson and Mark Rubio, senators from my home state of Florida, in addition to other senators from Alabama and Arkansas.


TWC: Did you know you were going to meet President Obama?


Salmeri: I had no idea. Three days before the event, we were emailed about the opportunity to attend a meeting at the White House. All the NEA interns who participated in Student Lobby Day went. The day of the event, I was sent an email telling me to meet a White House staff member in the East Room near JFK's portrait. That's when I was told that 15 of us were randomly selected to meet President Obama during the student loan interest rate hearing. I was one of the 15!


TWC: Do you think being a summer intern in Washington, D.C. has provided you with the opportunity to meet the president?


Salmeri: Yes definitely. I think it depends on the group you're interning with. The NEA is in support of Obama's re-election and works with many other groups that support education, students and teachers. It really all depends on the intern site or work location.


TWC: In addition to meeting President Obama, what are some other exciting experiences you've had since arriving to D.C.?


Salmeri: I was at the Supreme Court when they decided on the health care ruling. And as you know, because of my participation in Student Lobby Day, I got to work on Captitol Hill, walked through the offices of different senators and even met with some. I'm also really enjoying the programming at TWC. I especially liked the Simpson-Mineta Leaders Series with the Center for American Progress Fellow, Lawrence Korb.


TWC: Would you like to add anything else?


Salmeri: TWC has done a lot for me in terms of my experience in D.C. this summer. Some of these opportunities are things I've read about and studied during social studies in elementary school. To actually get out, go to these places and meet these people is once in a lifetime and definitely worthwhile.


[Watch the student loan interest rate hearing with President Obama]

[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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