Editor’s Note: Merrill Journalist Naomi Harris ’17, was honored (with other scholars winners) Saturday night (April 25) during the White House Correspondent’s Association dinner as the winner of the $17,000 Frank Cormier scholarship. Naomi says she hopes to become a foreign correspondent some day and is interested in producing documentaries focused on international issues of women and equality.

We asked her to write a brief narrative about her experience:

By Naomi Harris ’17

Naomi Harris with the Obamas.

Naomi with President and Mrs. Obama at the White House Correspondent’s Association dinner April 25.

In a room full of long gowns, crisp tuxedos and big smiles, it did not come as a shock that I needed to pinch myself. I never thought accepting such a gracious scholarship from the White House Correspondent’s Association would lead me to a ballroom with celebrities, politicians and journalists for the 2015 dinner.

But this past Saturday I had the great opportunity of introducing myself to some incredible people and meeting the Obamas. The night was full of laughter and a rare but pleasant atmosphere shared between the administration and the press. Christi Parsons, the president of the association, reminded all of us it is incredibly important to maintain access in order to inform the public as much as possible about the current news of the White House.

The first time I met President Obama he made me feel so welcomed as he complimented the university and smiled down with a look that just said he was proud. The same charisma I see in the news easily transferred into our short conversation. My interaction with Michelle Obama was equally as heartening. When I walked across the stage she embraced me in a huge hug image3and told me to rock the world.

The Obamas seemed to be confident in the scholars. I really believe they want to see the new generation continue to bring change to our country. The opportunity I had to meet the Obamas, hear well-respected journalists congratulate me and to laugh loudly at the jokes is a memory I will hold on to.

The night allowed me to see how journalism can truly influence the public. I heard many people thank me on Saturday night but I’d like to thank those who left their mark on the press. I hope to work harder than ever and continue the legacy of journalism throughout my career.

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Merrill Journalist Naomi Harris ’17 (back, left) poses with the other scholarship winners at the White House Press Association dinner. All photos by J.M. Eddins Jr.