Chosen to introduce the President

An interview with Emilio Aramis Ortiz

The President of the United States, Barach Obama visited Syracuse Thursday, August 22nd. This visit was a very memorable and enthusiastic moment for Syracuse, and for most of Central New York, since regardless of any political affiliation and/or any political party attachment, it was an honor and a privilege for many in this area. This stop was part o a 2-state bus-driven tour throughout New York, and ending in Pennsylvania, dedicated to talk and campaign for increasing higher education in America.

This memorable stop in Syracuse was held in the Henninger High School early evening that day, and after several local leaders in education, and other public representatives provided small speeches to a packed divers audience, a 12th grade Latino student from Corcoran High School, at around 6:15 PM, introduced the President of the United States of America.

Last Wednesday, August 28, almost a week after president Barach Obama stopped by Syracuse, we had the opportunity to interview, Emilio Ortiz… the all of a sudden popular Latino, that had the chance not only to introduce the president of the United States with a 3-minute speech that day, but also to shake his hand and to hug him, welcoming to this city.

The interview was held late on the day, in his residence of the South-side of Syracuse, with the company of his mother Margarita, and (at the end of the process) his father Edward Ortiz (and in some instances, the occasional unplanned presence of his dog).

Hugo: How are you doing..?

Emilio: I am doing very well…

Hugo: Before we prepared for this interview, I was trying to tell your mother that all this sudden fame and recognition that you have had recently in the local media, must have made an impression on you and your family. You have been in the Syracuse Post Standard, I believe in other newspapers… How do you feel about this..?

Emilio: I am very excited and very honor. I was just overall very excited about the opportunity to come.

Hugo: So, can you tell us how did all of this started.? You don’t have to give us a lot of details, but we would appreciate as much as you can remember. Did somebody give you a call in the school or did you receive a letter..? How did that work out..?

Emilio: The Superintendent and the school board were having a meeting in Fowler and they call my father asking him for my social security number. So, he told them I am not going to give you his social security number over the phone so we went and we drove to Fowler. We were greeted and taken to a little room were a member the board of education was. And after a while, I noticed I was apparently chosen to greed and meet the president. I was like: “…the president of what…?” They said: “the president of the United States of America”. I was surprised. They asked me: interested to do this..? I really wasn’t ready to respond… They also asked: “what are you going to say to him..?” I said to them: “…I need time. If I have a few days I can definitely put together a speech and all that”.

Hugo: When did all this happened..? like a week or so before he was coming..?

Emilio: 3 days before..!

Hugo: THREE Days..?!!! That’s definitely something where you have a short time to be prepared. So, when that happened, did you get excited, did you believe it, you couldn’t believe it..?

Emilio: I could not believe it..! I was very excited. So that night I brainstorm few ideas to put in the speech and, as I was doing that the secret service went over my transcript, and they went over all the social media accounts. Everything they went thru my whole file to make sure my background check was clear.

Hugo: How do you know they did that..? Did you find out by yourself or someone told you they were going to do that..?

Emilio: Oh, that is why they wanted to have my social security number, date of birth and all that. So after the background check went thru, they cleared me. They call the school and the school told me that I was cleared. So I started putting all of the brainstorms ideas into the speech… 

Hugo: In three days..?

Emilio: Yes, in three days. I finished it Thursday morning… the day the president was coming..

Hugo: Did you need to alter your every day routine like stop going to practice for football, or doing other things, etc. to get ready for this..? Where you able to sleep..?

Emilio: Yes, I was able to sleep… and Yes, I had to stop going to practice for three days. The couch understood and that was all I was basically doing every day.

Hugo: So the making of the speech. I am assuming they told you ahead the president is coming here to talk about – I believe it was something related to education – so you took that and use it to make your speech..? Did you need to research?, go to the Internet?, Consult with Mrs. Contreras..?

Emilio: Yes, he was going to talk about education affordability and I used what they told me he was talking about as a background or base for my speech…

Hugo: It is kind of interesting… In our culture, this is one of those things that is an ecstasy, a joy, an excitement to take some body from the community and do that. Is that something that you feel as a Latino to be a big deal..?

Emilio: I feel it is a very big deal because not a lot of Hispanics can say that they had an opportunity to meet the president.

Hugo: Considering that there were other speakers in front of you, and they were “key people” that were about to speak before the president, and before you – and I am not trying to say that you are a “nobody” or nothing like that, ha ha ha -, but wasn’t this fact getting you nervous in that moment, or relax, or somehow you learned how to keep your cool..?

Emilio: I was actually very relax throughout the entire process, but the minute I set foot on the stage, everything flew out the window (big smile). I was shaking, my arms were shaking, my legs were shaking. I could feel my voice trembling but I don’t think it really showed.

Hugo: No Emilio… it didn’t show…in fact, your composure and your self-control showed much to admire…

Emilio: oh well.. thank you (smile)

Hugo: Let’s put aside the issue that you are Latino, that you are very young, that it is probably the first time that you are facing the president… lets put aside all that… one of the characteristics of your introduction of the president – at least from my point of view – is that you sounded articulated and in control, you sounded educated and accurate. You didn’t stumble, you didn’t used the wrong terms or the wrong words, and you calmly smiled. There have been other instances with other people in a much lower circumstances, have panicked, have stuttered, lurched, tripped down, laughed in a “goofy” manner, and clearly demonstrated their “fear of public speaking”. You didn’t show any of that.

Emilio: Thank you, thank you… I do appreciate that…

Hugo: I think that’s important, because we are not featuring you for the “other obvious media reasons like”… Wow, a Latino..! Wow, a kid..! Wow, a Latino Kid..! Wow, with the president..! Wow, with the president of the United States..! we are featuring you for the well job done, and… for all that was mentioned before…

Hugo: Did you practice the speech..?

Emilio: Yes… over 50 times. I practice in front of my parents, my principal, my vice-principal. I went to Corcoran auditorium to practice and get the feeling of a big stage.

Hugo: Did you search on the internet how to do a proper speech..?

Emilio: No, no much Internet search…

Hugo: Let me ask you now in a more personal level… now that you had this moment…. now that it is over, and everything went ok, and keeping in mind that the media wants to applaud you and to feature you – just like we are doing it in our publication – what about your personal life now..?, are your friends treating you differently..? did you feel that you are getting a little more recognition, or more attention, or more conversations..?

Emilio: I feel that now that everything is over, I get more respect from people.

Hugo: Wow, that’s interesting… more “respect”

Emilio: Yah, that’s how I feel… other than that, my friends treat me the same. I have great friends, that I think wouldn’t change the way they (have always) treated me. I couldn’t ask for more…

Hugo: Were you expecting anything else to happen..? Maybe I little more recognition from the part of the president..? or, were you expecting the opposite..?

Emilio: No… I wasn’t expecting him to do any of that. I was actually thinking that he was going to kick me off the stage and get on with (his) speech…

Hugo: Were you surprised when he call out for your parents..?

Emilio: No really

Hugo: Another thing that was interesting as a very positive remark from the president about you, is that somehow he commented a promising political characteristic in you, making us (the audience) think he probably consider you in the future, for politics.

Emilio: I don’t know about that

Hugo: What are you studying after high school..?

Emilio: I want to study physical Therapy.

Hugo: So, political ambitious might not be in the horizon yet..?

Emilio: I don’t think so…

Hugo: Do you think this might happen again..?

Emilio: Chance are, it probably would not happen again but if it does. I am definitely taking the opportunity… and I will be more ready…

Hugo: During my interviews for our media outlets, we try to reach key members of our culture that are being like a good example in the society, or somebody to look up. One of the many things we want to do with our publication, is to change the Latino stickman that some times identify us as the negative members of the society. With this said, (and this is usually a tough question that sometimes the people I interview they kind of stumble with): What would you like to say to the readers of the CNY Latino, young and old, that could deliver a positive message, and help them to change the image of Latinos in America… anything that might have to do with your opportunity to be with the president in that very short period of fame…

Emilio: Over all, I would just say work hard because in the end your hard work and dedication, it will eventually pay off… 

Hugo: Excellent…Thanks again for this opportunity to share your story with our readership, and good luck to you.

Emilio: No problem.. thank you.

After the interview, Emilio, his parents and I commented about the president remarks: “… He did pretty good, didn’t he..?”, and how he called out his parents in the audience, by saying: “where are his parents..?, where is mom and dad..?” – turn head left, right, then left- “hey… he did great..! we might have to run him for something”

Hmmm, we all wondered..!

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