NEWBURGH - Yvanna Kenan, an eighth grade student at South Middle School in Newburgh, recently had the opportunity of a lifetime when she was asked to attend United States President Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. She was invited to participate in a conference that took place in January at the White House in Washington, D.C. and had the opportunity to participate in many activities which include: the exploration of presidential campaigns, the role of the president and his cabinet and how the electoral college functions.
In addition to attending President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, Kenan toured the Washington, D.C. area and attended conferences designed specifically for students.
Kenan explained that former United States President George W. Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna, were among the presenters during the conferences and spoke about the importance of giving back your community either through initiatives for adults or children.
One of the most interesting parts of the trip according to Kenan was a conference with the Obama Family’s fitness trainer. "We learned what life is like in the White House every day," explained Kenan.
Overall, Kenan said the experience changed her views about how she can impact her school and community through her own leadership. "I was excited to go on this trip and represent Newburgh. It opened my eyes to helping others in the community and in my own school," she explained.
As far as her future plans, Kenan explained that she would like to create free of charge afterschool programs one day to keep young adults off the streets and help them with their school work, counseling, and provide them with sports programs. In addition, Kenan feels that one of the most important things she learned from her experience is perseverance.
"I’ve learned that when things get really hard it’s important to remain calm and simplify them as much as possible. To always keep in mind that it is not about where you come from or where you’ve been, but it is all about where you are heading. Staying focused, and setting small goals is a start and to have an end you must always start first," she explained.
According to South Middle School Principal Michael Ragusa, fellow South students and Kenan’s teachers were very proud of her accomplishments. "We are so proud to have one of our students invited to such a prestigious and historical event. Yvanna is a true inspiration to the many students who attend South Middle School. Her participation in President Obama’s second Inaugural Address is not only a reflection of her hard work and commitment to education, it is a reflection on her parents and the many educators who have dedicated themselves in supporting and shaping her in becoming the person and student that she has become," said Ragusa.