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Student Meets Obama Multiple Times, Encourages Voting

Obama signs autographs after a speech he gave at the Port of Tampa earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Cristina Gomez.

With the presidential election not too far away, it is difficult to avoid thinking about politics or becoming politically active. Cristina Gomez, a member of College Democrats, is one student who has continued to be politically active on campus.

A sophomore and government and world affairs major, Gomez joined College Democrats her freshman year. Although, she began identifying herself as a Democrat sometime in high school around 2008. Over the past five years, she has seen President Obama in person four times. Of those four times, she got to shake his hand twice.

In 2007, Gomez and her family traveled from Houston, Texas to Austin in order to see Obama speak during his campaign for presidency. “We waited a long time to get second row seats,” said Gomez. This would be her first time shaking Obama’s hand. It was not until Obama’s inauguration that Gomez got to see him again. “It was definitely worth standing in the cold,” said Gomez.

Gomez did not just get to see Obama and hear him give a speech when she saw him the following time. She and some of the other College Democrats members volunteered with White House staff when Obama came to the Tampa Port Authority at the Port of Tampa while on his way to Cuba. She got to shake his hand for the second time.

She and the other members of College Democrats recently saw Obama again on Sept. 8, 2012 when he spoke at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Gomez hopes to see Obama in Washington D.C. when he gives his second inaugural speech. Although she has seen Obama speak on several occasions, she would also like to meet Hillary Clinton and Philip Gordon.

Gomez was attracted to the Democratic Party for the party’s views on gay rights and women’s rights, but she is especially supportive of the party’s view on education and student loans.

“Education in this country… we need to step it up,” said Gomez. “Some people don’t get to go to college. We need loans.”

Along with College Democrats, Gomez has been helping anyone and everyone to register to vote.

“You hear a lot of people complain about the country,” said Gomez. “Your vote can make a difference. Every vote counts!” Gomez has been a registered voter since last spring. “This [upcoming presidential election] would be my first time voting,” said Gomez.

If you want to get involved politically, but you are not sure about which party you fit into or how to get involved, Gomez has advice for you. “Go to a meeting with UT’s College Democrats and UT’s College Conservatives, and find which you identify with more.”

Not only does joining either group help you become politically active on campus, it is also a good opportunity to make friends like Gomez.

The College Democrats meet Mondays at 9 p.m. in Plant Hall room 220, and the College Conservatives meet Mondays at 8 p.m. on the veranda between Walker and Sykes. Whichever party you choose, you are striving to make America a better place.

“As college students, we should educate ourselves and get involved as much as we can,” said Gomez.

Jake Koniszewski can be reached at john.koniszewski@spartans.ut.edu

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