I remember it vividly as if it was yesterday: Four years ago, sitting at home, in Coral Springs, Florida, watching the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama.
That day, at 20-years-old, I dreamed of one day being involved in the political process and implementing positive change for Latinos all across the country.
Fast forward, and four years later, a lot has changed. After graduating from Community College in Florida, I made a big leap onto the nation's capital and transferred to American University, from where I recently graduated. In addition, with the help of many friends and even colleagues at the Dewey Square Group, I formed an organization that focuses on empowering Latinos to reach their maximum potential, called Latino Giant.
Out of all the things that have happened since my big move to Washington, nothing comes close to how rewarding it was to meet the President of the United States.
As he has done for so many, President Barack Obama has motivated me to do better. He's shown me that there is nothing "minor" about us, and that our voice is just as loud as everyone else's in this democracy. Our voice is not just any voice, it is an important one that can influence how business is done here in Washington. The President has shown me that if we fight for our principles and always work on doing the right thing, there is nothing we can't achieve.
Just a few months ago, as Congress battled over the Fiscal Cliff debacle, I wrote to the White House and expressed my feelings on why Middle-Class Tax Cuts should be extended. I wrote to them, because I couldn't bear to imagine millions of young Americans struggling to pay their bills, working full-time and going to school in order to get by, suffer the consequences of an irresponsible Congress. I felt a moral obligation to speak on behalf of my community and express those concerns.
Several months after writing to the White House, I was invited to attend an event on December 31st, where the president was to deliver a statement on the economy and the Fiscal Cliff. Thrilled, I accepted the invitation. As I arrived at the White House that cold Monday morning, staff members informed me that I had been selected, out of the 100 or so individuals that had been invited to the event that day, to stand behind the president as he delivered his remarks. To say that I was shocked, surprised, and nervous is not saying enough.
Meeting the president was an unforgettable experience. Not only because I got to stand next to a man that has faced many of the same struggles that are prevalent within the Latino community, but also because ever since he ran for the office he now holds, he inspired me to push myself to my greatest potential, and inspire others to do the same. As the president wrapped up his appearance, he invited those of us present to take a group picture. In between shots, we chatted about football, Bo the First Dog, and politics. While chatting with him for those 10 minutes, I couldn't help but notice how at ease the president made us feel, his down-to-earth approach, and just his easy-going attitude.
In addition to having an unforgettable conversation with the president, I had an opportunity to thank him for all the work he has done on behalf of Latinos and all Americans. I thanked him for making Latinos a part of our democracy. And most importantly, I thanked him for making an ambitious young Latino with high hopes believe that his future is bright and just beginning.
Ever since President Obama began his campaign in 2007, he promised to make the White House a more transparent and welcoming home. He promised to engage the American people in helping to solve the challenges we face as a nation. Today, I can say that I feel that the President has kept that promise. I encourage each and every one of you to get involved in the political process, to inspire others to serve, and to not be afraid to let your voices be heard. After all, you never know who might be listening. Who knows, you might just end up meeting the president.