Student Gets Rare Chance to Interview President Obama


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Patrick Forrest stands behind a podium before a news briefing by the White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest at the White House College Reporter Day on April 28, 2016. U.S. President Obama also made an appearance during the briefing.

When the former news editor of the Rampage was selected to attend the White House College Reporter Day event on April 28, he couldn’t have imagined that he would get the chance of a lifetime.

But Patrick Forrest, 22, one of 50 students chosen from across the U.S. to attend the White House College Reporter Day event in Washington D.C. on April 28 would earn him the privilege of exchanging words with the president of the United States. He was one of the few students who got a chance to ask the president a question.

“When he [President Obama] came out, there was an audible reaction in the room, like oh, my god, it’s really him,” Forrest said.

Initially, the students were told that only Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, would be speaking at the news briefing.

Student journalists were given the opportunity to ask the president any question pertaining to him, and although Forrest was the last student to ask his question, he was confident that the president would call on him.

“I knew I was going to get to ask a question because he kept promising to get back to me. I was like ‘OK Mr. President!’”

While he waited his turn, Forrest pondered several possible questions but settled on the idea that an increasing number of Americans believe that the election process is rigged. He asked Obama what his plans to “help revitalize the faith in democracy” were.

The president spoke for four minutes answering Forrest’s question, speaking especially about how important it is to get out the college-aged vote.

“What’s interesting is, young people as a voting bloc are the least likely to vote, but when you do vote, have the biggest impact on elections,” Obama said, adding, “Don’t give away your power.”

The president ended the session by telling Forrest, “You got me started. I went on a rant, didn’t I?”

Forrest said the whole room seemed to be in awe over seeing the president.

“Even after it was over, I had to go back and watch the video to make sure it really happened,” Forrest said.

He added that he has received a lot of positive feedback from his friends and family, as well as mentions in online news articles.

“There’s been a lot of people [that are] very proud of me,” he said.

After three days in Washington D.C., Forrest said he is glad to be back home and is trying as much as he can to get back to normal.

“I’ve interviewed the president,” Forrest said. “Nothing will be normal after this.”