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Archive for the ‘Personal Experiences’ Category

As you all probably know, Obama visited Texas today. His 6 hour trip to this overwhelmingly Republican state was much more about fundraising than it was campaigning. Obama’s approval is low enough that Democratic politicians like Bill White and Mark Strama are trying to distance themselves from him. But, the highlight of this trip, at least in the eyes of thousands of UT students and faculty, was his speech in Gregory Gym.

While Obama was expected to make his appearance at 2 pm, the line outside of Gregory Gym apparently started around 9 am. There were three different kinds of tickets: “floor”, “bleacher”, and “balcony”. Once again, I was amazed with how efficiently this event ran. There were people passing out water while we were waiting and almost exactly at 12 pm the line started to move quickly into the gym.

Obama’s speech emphasized the importance of higher education in this evolving world. And to address the critics that want him to focus solely on the economy, he drilled in the point that an educated workforce is the first step to a growing economy. Like always, Obama had facts to back up his points. One-third of college students, and one half of the minority students, don’t earn a degree even after six years. Not only that, but America has fallen from 1st in the world to 12th in terms of college graduation rates in the span of one generation.

This is as close as I got.

This got me thinking. Deficit spending and unemployment benefits are only temporary fixes for the economy. Without a top-notch, well-educated workforce, however, America’s decline is inevitable. We can invest in renewable energies and biotechnology all we want; but, without innovators and critical thinkers, that money would go to waste.

As we’ve seen in the past few years, many jobs can easily be outsourced. Factories and call centers don’t have to be in America anymore. But, you can’t outsource innovation. If we have better thinkers here in America, it won’t matter how cheap labor can be in other parts of the world. Companies will succeed here as long as we have a leg up on education.

So while education may not be the answer to our current financial crisis, it may just be the fulcrum of our long term economic growth.

In other news, Naveen and I were quoted in thisĀ Dallas Morning News article about Obama’s visit.

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I’ve often heard critics say that the young people in our country are apathetic about politics. This is somewhat hard to believe. First of all, the 2008 election was a huge talking point at my high school. People who weren’t even old enough to vote were donning their “Obama ’08” t-shirts and passing out Obama stickers. But then again, presidential elections are exciting for everyone right? The real test of apathy, or lack thereof, would be how the young react to politics during a downtime.

The president’s administration recently announced that Obama would be giving a speech at UT Austin this coming Monday. This appearance will be an invitation-only event with a “limited” number of tickets for students who can show their valid UT student IDs. While he endures a record low approval rating of 44%, students were asked to line up for a chance at one of these “golden tickets” to hear him speak.

A critic may take this opportunity to predict a low student turnout to prove to the public that Obama’s “honeymoon” period is over. This was most definitely not the case. Not this president. Not at this university.

My brother, my friend, and I arrived at the Texas Union at 10:30 PM Friday night ready to camp out all night for tickets to see Obama. The line was officially supposed to begin at 10 PM, just half an hour before we got there. To our surprise, there were already at least 500 people ahead of us.

Although we weren’t sure if we were going to get tickets, we decided to wait it out. Fortunately, the Texas Democrats organized a voucher system for us to claim a line number and then return in the morning to resume the wait. This method worked flawlessly and we arrived at around 7 AM to find at least 1000 people waiting in a massive line.

The line stretches down the entire street.

Somehow, we only had to wait until 8:30 to receive our tickets. The whole process was surprisingly efficient (I guess that’s what happens when Democrats run an event).

My Golden Ticket

Besides from walking away very happy with the prospect of seeing Obama in a couple of days, I also realized something very exciting. We, the young people of the nation, are definitely not apathetic about politics.

But one question still remains: how many people would have lined up if George W. Bush was coming in to town?

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