“Live from Central High School, I’m Sandra,” she said into her phone. “I’m here covering the President of the United States’ visit to Phoenix,”
Obama was in Phoenix to unveil new changes in Federal Housing Administration policy, noting that the department will lower the fees for borrowers, which will entice first time buyers and , he said could save families $900 annually. The speech was a part of a series of speeches Obama was giving around the country to preview his upcoming State of the Union Address later this month.
Putting all the numbers and politics aside, the chance to report on the visit to Phoenix by the most powerful person in America was an opportunity that the Civitan Media Department couldn’t pass up.
Covering a presidential speech as a journalist is one that many members of the special-needs population could not put on a resume. Knowing this, Civitan jumped on the chance by applying for a press pass on the White House’s website. When Sandra received it, she was beyond belief.
“I was nervous at first, but then I saw it as an opportunity to show journalists that I can cover this, too,” she said. “I became excited.”
When Sandra and Hana Self, the head of the media department arrived, they were treated as reporters. They went through security, received their press pass and made their way to the press area.
Speaking first was head of the Housing and Urban Development, then it was the Phoenix Mayor, then…President Obama!
“I was in awe when he walked out,” she said with a smile.
As she was taught, Sandra remained neutral, not taking sides, just as a journalist. It was a chance to ignite the reporting skills that she believed was inside of her all along.
“America is back,” Obama said. “We’ve been through some tough times, but we’re moving.”
For Civitan member Tori, who has a radio Show with Sandra, the significance of what her co-host did can not be understated.
“It’s not everyday someone from the special needs community gets this opportunity,” Tori, who didn’t attend the event said. “We tend to be overlooked sometimes, which upsets me.”
It was a day that Sandra will never forget; she walked away with a souvenir, her very own White House Press Pass.
“I was extremely excited,” Sandra said. “It was my first time seeing a president in person and not on TV. It was cool to be a member of the press.”