Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2009 Issue »

    Youth Voices

    A Moment That Inspired a Lifetime

    Merissa Magdael-Lauron
    12th grade, Cesar Chavez High School, Stockton, California

    My name is Merissa Magdael-Lauron, and I was seventeen years old when Barack Obama won the presidential election on November 4, 2008. I am proud to say that I was one of the many Young Democrats of America that helped out in his campaign. I was not of age to vote, but I was not going to let that stop me from helping Obama to win and from being a part of history and an amazing legacy to come. Because of the election of Barack Obama, I found a newfound hope not just for my education but for my life as well. I am going to major in music composition in college, but I find myself still wanting to help my community other than just through my music. So after election day, I became a nominee for a delegate of the 17th Assembly District for the California Democratic Party after only turning eighteen years old a few days earlier. Then on January 12, 2009, I was elected as the fourth delegate of the 17th Assembly District.

    The presidency of Barack Obama has inspired and motivated us youth to reach new heights and has given us the courage to become anything we want to be, now that we know that we actually can. As a young female of color, a Filipina, I have heard many times from elders around me, “You can be whatever you want to be, except president of the United States.” However, now with Obama as president, there is no stopping any of my generation from being literally anything that we want to be because there is a new hope in this world and in our lives.

    I have always known that I was going to go to college and hopefully get a Ph.D., but now my educational possibilities and opportunities seem endless. Even with the bad economy and this budget crisis here in California, I have a new want and a new need to go to school and get the best and highest education I can. President Obama just gives off this atmosphere of hope and courage to all of us young ones, and we know that we can make a difference, as we did in the presidential election, and we know we can get an education to help us in our futures and the future of the United States of America. Everything just seems possible now and knowing this, I and the rest of my generation can look forward to higher and less expensive education. When Barack Obama (2009) announced, “I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you,” during his acceptance speech, the words truly touched my heart and soul because it was true. I and many others truly feel victorious and a part of America now. Before Obama became president, I hadn’t recognized America as the country I love and know, and I was contemplating whether or not I was going to continue my education here in the States, but now there is change and it is happening, and I definitely can say that I would not want to be anywhere else or receive my education anywhere other than here in the United States of America.

    Obama, B. (2009, January 20). Inaugural Speech. Speech presented in Washington, DC.
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    Summer 2009 Issue


    Editors’ Introduction
    Note to Educators
    Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
    Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade
    A Dialogue
    Our Selves, Our Students, and Obama
    Jennifer McLaughlin and Kim Kelly
    President Obama and Education
    The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Promise and Peril
    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration
    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach
    Education Reform in the Obama Era
    Megan Behrent
    Obama’s Dilemma
    Postpartisan Politics and the Crisis of American Education
    Henry A. Giroux
    Second-Class Integration
    A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda
    Vanessa Siddle Walker
    Equity and Empathy
    Toward Racial and Educational Achievement in the Obama Era
    Prudence L. Carter
    It Wasn’t Easy to Get Here
    Kathleen Mayse
    Obama, Where Art Thou?
    Hoping for Change in U.S. Education Policy
    Wayne Au
    Praise Song for Teachers
    A Call to Action
    Ariane White
    Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century
    Principles for the Obama Administration
    Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
    Education for Everyday People
    Obstacles and Opportunities Facing the Obama Administration
    Gloria Ladson-Billings
    An Insurrectionary Generation
    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama
    Jay Gillen
    An Earned Insurgency
    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    Robert P. Moses
    Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education
    William Ayers
    Coda: The Slow Fuse of Change
    Obama, the Schools, Imagination, and Convergence
    Maxine Greene
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