By Simone Thomas

White House Correspondents Association Dinner honors Merrill Journalist Simone Thomas. She's standing next to First Lady Michelle Obama.

Merrill College of Journalism freshman Simone Thomas is smiling next to First Lady Michelle Obama in this photo by J. M. Eddins, Jr.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. –  My time at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner still seems surreal when I look back on the experience. It felt like a moment that brought some of my many dreams to life.

Meeting President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made me emotional because I was in the presence of people who I admire greatly, but never expected to meet in my lifetime. It was an honor to be invited and recognized as a scholarship recipient, but it was an even greater honor to be in the presence of the First Family and share a precious personal moment with them.

It was also really meaningful to be in the same room as prominent journalists who I revere and look up to as inspiration. Seeing actors who I watch on television but never thought to ever personally see gave me much excitement as well.

Simone gets a big hug from President Obama.

Simone gets a big hug from President Obama.
Photo: Dean Lucy Dalglish

I was the youngest recipient and I felt extremely honored to represent the Merrill College of Journalism. Our college is such a reputable place in the world of journalism and I was proud to be an example of the immense success that lies within the school.

Earlier in the week, Simone attended a special luncheon for WHCA scholarship winners. Here she's posing with actor and comedian Joel McHale (who was the featured speaker at the WHCA dinner).

Earlier in the week, Simone attended a special luncheon for WHCA scholarship winners. Here she’s posing with actor and comedian Joel McHale (who was the featured speaker at the WHCA dinner). Photo by J. M. Eddins, Jr.

The White House Correspondents’ Scholarship represents the college’s kindness and willingness to help me with college expenses. Attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was one more positive privilege to savor in my college experience as a journalism student.

I am forever thankful to the college for its faith in my talent and skills, and will always remember such a special moment of my life.

 

Simone Thomas is a freshman broadcast major at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.