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Student shares thoughts on his “Town Hall experience with President Barack Obama”

SULC students were among the 1,000-member audience for President Barack Obama’s Town Hall Meeting held in Baton Rouge at McKinley Magnet High School Gymnasium, Thursday morning, January 14.

Second-year evening students Alvarez J. Hertzock III, Ryan Andrews, and Dmitrius McGruder were among the lucky ones to acquire not only a ticket to the event, but also a ticket for special seating on stage behind the President.

It was the President’s first visit to Baton Rouge and one of the first stops in his post-State of the Union Tour during his last year in office.

Hertzock, Andrews, and McGruder braved the cold and long lines from midnight until the doors opened at 9 a.m. to get tickets on the Tuesday before the event. To enter the actual town hall meeting, the trio opted to do much the same, camping out in weather with wind chills in the high 30s and low 40s from 4 a.m. until the security checkpoint opened at 7:30 a.m.

Through it all, “When the opportunity presented itself for the President of the United States to speak in my hometown at one of the city’s most historic institutions, I simply could not pass up this exceptional opportunity,” Hertzock said. Other Evening Division students who attended the town hall meeting were 2L Tevoy Dyson and 1L Eddie Murray.

“The anticipation was nerve wracking… President Obama entered the stage at 10:15 a.m. to a roaring applause,” Hertzock said. “The students selected to sing the National Anthem and to introduce the President would have made any Baton Rouge native proud.”

“To see the man that I have long admired, stand 10 feet from me was a mesmerizing moment,” said Hertzock, who has been consistently interested in history, politics, and public speaking since grade school. “He {President Obama} proceeded to smile, wave, and thank the crowd repeatedly before beginning the event.”

The Baton Rouge Magnet High and LSU graduate, who works in human resources for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, said he previously watched “any news conference, town hall, or debate that featured Mr. Obama.” “His intelligence, charisma and coolness seemed to appeal to me unlike any other politician I had ever seen before,” he said.

At this Baton Rouge Town Hall meeting, questions from the audience touched on a wide range of topics. The President gave his opinion on issues such as affordable healthcare, education reform, global warming, the economy, and HBCUs.

“The total event lasted almost two hours and I absorbed every minute of it,” Hertzock said. “I thank the President and all who worked hard to coordinate such a successful event, because it was something that I will not soon forget.”

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Alvarez Hertzock and Ryan Andrews enjoyed a seat on the stage directly behind President Obama during the Town Hall Meeting, January 14.

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Dmitrius McGruder shake hands with Gov. John Bel Edwards at the event.