Local eight-year-old meets Obama

BY KRISTEN EAST | APRIL 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Antoine Williams wants to be president one day.

The 8-year-old Coralville resident may have to wait a few years, but Antoine took one step closer to achieving his dream Wednesday when he met President Obama.

"I told him when he came in [I wanted to be president one day]," he said. "I was really excited."

Antoine attended Obama's address at the University of Iowa Field House Wednesday afternoon with his former teacher Julie Jessen, where he waited several hours in an enclosed room with other students before meeting the president. Antoine had his picture taken with Obama and received White House candy and a book.

"He was pretty shy," Jessen said. "There was a long line of people so it was real quick. He did talk to [Obama] though."

Jessen, a teacher at Kirkwood Elementary School, was Antoine's kindergarten teacher when he wrote a letter to the president in 2010.

"I've been teaching for 17 years in Iowa City, and it's definitely one of the biggest highlights of my career," Jessen said.

The teacher said Antoine was motivated to write the letter after Jessen saw Obama speak at the Field House that year.

"He was a little bent out of shape that I was going to see the president," she said. "He wanted to know what he'd have to do to be president."

Antoine received a response from the White House in summer 2010. Tasha Anderson said her son, now in second grade, received autographed pictures of the Obama family and their dog, Bo.

When Jessen heard Obama would speak at the UI again, she immediately contacted Iowa Democrat Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky to coordinate a meeting between Antoine and Obama.

Once the meeting was arranged, Tasha Anderson, 33, decided to keep it a surprise from her son until the night before. She surprised him by bringing home clothes for him to wear. Anderson was unable to accompany her son to the event because of work, but she was happy that her son had the rare opportunity to meet Obama.

"I was very excited for him, and he was so excited," she said. "It's rare that you can have opportunities to get this close to the president this young. It means a lot to me."

And as for Antoine, he said he plans on writing Obama another letter very soon.

Editor's Note:

A previous version of this story misstated Antoine's last name. His last name is Williams, not Anderson.

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