Yes, that is our student Anahi with her arm around President Obama.
Anahi has lived in the United States for only two years and has spoken English for only two years. As she has said, she never could have imagined that she would visit the White House not once, but twice...in one year! She and her family have an incredible story that defies all odds--see this recent Telemundo story on her and the trip here (Spanish).
All of us at HackSchool are very proud of what Anahi's hard work has accomplished, and we're excited that she's helping to blaze the trail and open up even more opportunities for all the students in HackSchool. She has not only created enormous opportunities for herself, but there are some very exciting things coming down the pipe for all of our students as well!
As an advocate for education through community problem-solving, for girls in STEM fields, and for immigrants working to make our country better, there is no better place to be than the White House. Anahi's got some exciting stuff with the Governor of Colorado coming up too...but more on that in a later post.
I won't say a lot about why she was invited back (see this post for details), but in short: Anahi was selected to be one of President Barack Obama's 11 Kid Science Advisors. Also around the table were Obama’s chief science adviser, Dr. John Holdren, astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, NASA Director Charles Bolden, and director of the National Science Foundation, France Córdova. See the video above.
During their meeting, Anahi gave the following pitch--which she wrote and practiced relentlessly:
"One day, I was walking down the street with my mom and I saw a blind person who was about to cross the street. I realized how dangerous the situation was, so I decided to help blind people by making a 'smart' cane that will tell them the objects around them so they avoid accidents. I was able to do this because we had recently started HackSchool, where students are capable to solve community problems through technology. But the cool thing about this is that students make and build things instead of just listening to a teacher. I would like that you help open more programs and schools like HackSchool where students can use technology to help our community and improve this country."
Anahi has gotten a lot of attention for her accomplishments, so I'll just list some of the media below. We are very proud of the social justice advocate Anahi is developing herself into, and we're excited for the opportunities she is creating for students in HackSchool, in Colorado, and around the country.
- Washington Post article on the White House meeting featuring Anahi
- White House blog post about the event.
- President Obama's tweet about the event.
- VIDEO: Telemundo -- "Young Immigrant Visits the White House" (Spanish)
- VIDEO: 9News Denver NBC -- about the experience (Note: they said she presented to the Kid Science Advisors, but in fact, she is one of the Kid Science Advisors)
- Upcoming 9News longer feature on Anahi and HackSchool.