This post was written by Democracy Prep Public Schools alumni, Trey B. He recently had the opportunity to share his love of reading and belief that all should benefit from libraries through an address he gave at the White House.
On Thursday, January 14th, I was presented with a life changing opportunity.
Ms. Fiorelli, a member of the Alumni Relations team, sent me a message asking me if libraries or books in general had ever impacted my life in a significant way. She then asked me if I would be willing to speak about that experience at the White House the following week.
“Definitely,” I replied. “Wow, this is insane! How is this even possible?”
After a brief conversation with Ms. Fiorelli, I received an email from Democracy Prep’s founder, Seth Andrew. Mr. Andrew, who now works at the White House as a senior advisor, asked me to write a brief paragraph about my experience with libraries.
When I started writing, I thought about my first library card that I received from The New York Public Library. I mentioned various novels such as The Invisible Man, The Alchemist, 1984, and The Lightning Thief series, which was the first book series that I fell in love with. I would recommend that everyone read those books because those were the books that taught me how to think more abstractly and eventually graduate to new ideas.
“Please get down here. Going to try and get you a speaking spot. Your paragraph is beautiful! Well done,” Mr. Andrew replied after reading the paragraph that I sent him. At that moment, I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening as Ms. Fiorelli and I rushed to figure out how I would get to D.C. and where I would be staying.
Before I knew it, Tuesday morning had arrived and I was on my way to the White House in my brand new suit and tie. “Are you going to meet the president?” my cab driver asked. “I hope so!” I replied. Once I arrived at the White House, I met with Mr. Andrew in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium. There were about 100 to 150 important people there from all over the country including mayors, multimedia reporters, library directors, commissioners, and more. I was anxious and nervous being in the OEOB with so many important people.
When they called my name to speak and introduced me to the audience, I greeted everyone and began to give my speech. And I made sure to embrace every moment of it.
“The pages felt grainy. The smooth pages left a faint scent of forest on my fingertips, and as I turned page after page I lost myself within the confines of the author’s imagination. What felt like a moment turned into hours and then into days of escaping from my reality and experiencing what it might be like to dream big.”
Time felt like it was standing still. All I could hear was applause from the audience and the snapping of cameras taking pictures. I could feel the power of my words with each and every handshake as countless individuals came to greet me, thank me and tell me how much my speech inspired them. I made sure to network with as many people as possible and learn more about the Library initiative. I want to continue to inspire people much in the same way Ms. Fiorelli and Mr. Andrew’s hard work to get me to the White House ultimately inspired me.
About The Author:
Trey B. is a Democracy Prep alumni who currently attends Binghampton University.