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Brown welcomes Obama on chilly day

Seeing her wet and cold, president gives his own coat

October 11, 2012

By Samah Assad

Tatiana Brown, a Cleveland State freshman, graced the stage with President Obama when he campaigned at Cleveland State at Krenzler Field on Oct. 5. A humble grin beamed across her face as a black, oversized coat draped her body in the rain.

She slowly gazed from side to side and breathed in her surroundings — a colossal crowd of 9,000 — and approached the microphone to introduce Obama to fans, media and the nation.

After introducing herself, Brown commented about what was on everybody’s minds — her attire.

“This is actually Obama’s coat,” she said, eyeing her own wardrobe. “He told me I looked cute but I wasn’t warm.”

According to Brown, Obama noticed she was cold and offered her his coat backstage after they met. After a few humble rejections from Brown, he insisted and placed the coat on her.

Expecting the president to be formal and serious, Brown was shocked by Obama’s actions.

“You could really tell he was a father figure,” she said. “It really touched my heart that all of the things I wanted him to be and hoped he’d be as a president, he really was.”

Having such an incredible opportunity in her first year in college is a lone feat. However, her presentation at Krenzler Field is only the back story. Her struggle to this success is the focal point.

The 18-year-old education major was merely a volunteer intern for the Organizing for America (OFA) campaign office on Euclid Avenue, working to register voters and bring awareness to the Obama campaign, when she received a call from her field organizer who had nominated her to present Obama at his Cleveland State rally. She was among two students that were nominated.

This consideration meant volumes to Brown, regardless of whether or not the outcome was her being chosen.

“Being nominated was enough for me,” Brown said.

Brown could barely suppress her tears upon hearing the news on Monday, Oct. 1 that she had in fact been selected to introduce Obama, citing this accomplishment as not only hers, but her family’s. A Cleveland native, Brown currently stays in Fenn Tower. Her family came all the way from South Carolina to see her introduce the president.

“The biggest thing for me was that I could bring my entire family,” Brown said. “My family does everything for me and finally I can do something as equal, if not greater than what they’ve always done for me.”

Brown is the first person in her family to attend college and said that she has taken out three loans to pay for school since she only has her mother to provide for the whole family.

According to Brown, she did not grow up in the wealthiest household. She has witnessed her family struggle to make ends meet while growing up.

Watching her mother work up to 15-hour work days daily to ensure that they had food on their plates and clothes on their backs, Brown admitted to pondering how she would ever get through the economic crisis that has engulfed every middle class family in the country since 2008.

“I have wondered how I’d get by from day-to-day, night-to-night,” Brown said. “I’ve watched my mother all 18 years of my life struggle to keep us in a good school district, to make sure that we had clothes to go to school with every year, make sure we had food every night and to make sure she can pay the bills, no matter what it took.”

This is the reason why she stands by President Obama’s vision of education being the driving force for a thriving economy. Decreasing tuition for college students by providing Pell Grants and more financial aid are the main points Obama preached in his visit to Cleveland State. Brown said that the Pell Grant has assisted her greatly in her struggle to pay her college tuition.

“I’ve noticed that’s a main thing with Obama – he’s trying to help out students,” Brown said. “He realizes that we do need education to better ourselves, and I feel that everything he’s doing is because he knows it will help us and make us a better, stronger people in the end.”

She believes that Governor Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is not relatable because she feels he’s never endured the constant struggle that the working class does. She does not believe that Romney recognizes that the working class needs assistance.

“To have a president that says they don’t care about the working class? You lost my vote because that’s my mother,” Tatiana said. “I know at the end of the day who’s going to help me and who’s going to help my family.”

And on Thursday, Oct. 4, she voted for her first time.

Being in the limelight and having countless people interview her about her speech was “almost overwhelming,” Tatiana admitted. However, this experience was not about the attention she received. And it certainly wasn’t only about meeting the President of the United Sates, Brown said. This, along with her being the first of her family to go to college, symbolize something more for her, something much deeper.

“I’m setting a path that my older and younger family can follow,” Brown said. “This gives them a dream to follow and tells them that anything is possible – all you have to do is try and believe.”

After pursuing her Education degree, Brown hopes to have her own 24-hour daycare in the future. Getting her education and meeting the president has empowered her to meet her goals, and she pushes others to walk the same path.

“It shows me that even the every day normal person can do everything,” she said. “You don’t have to be the richest person in the world, but as long as you trust in yourself that you can accomplishment something, you can do it.”