Pierce brings back positive feedback of Obama’s forum

Photo by Dawn Einsel

Caitlin Restelli

Kent State was the only higher education institution discussed in President Obama’s closing remarks at his “Winning the Future Forum on Small Business” Tuesday in Cleveland.

Obama recognized Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute.

Justin Pierce, Undergraduate Student Government executive director, was selected to be one of about a dozen young leaders in the Cleveland area to serve on a panel to discuss youth issues.

About half of the young leaders were student government presidents from Case-Western Reserve, Akron, Ashland, Wooster and Tri-C. The other half were executive directors of non-profit organizations such as the Power Network, Cleveland Clinic and a few Cleveland State Organizations.

“It was just phenomenal. It was an unbelievable experience,” said Pierce, senior finance major. “I walked out of there more confident in our administration than I ever was.”

The White House public engagement and President Obama held a roundabout table to have extensive conversations with the students.

“Not only did he come in and slowly shake all of our hands,” Pierce said, “but he spoke to us, and I was very impressed with how comfortable he was to be around and how easy it was to talk to him.”

After Obama spoke about some of his priorities and issues, he opened the table for questions, and a few of the young leaders — including Pierce — spoke.

“The Office of Public Engagement and the president gave us a lot of information,” Pierce said. “But they were primarily there to listen to us, so we sparked most of the conversation.”

Pierce said Obama said the American youth is intelligent and is vital to help the economy recover.

“Two out of three jobs are created out of small businesses, and the American youth is what is going to drive the economy and really lead us into a prosperous one,” Pierce said.

Obama’s administration plans to hold about 100 more of these roundabout tables throughout the country to reach out to local communities.

“We need to understand that our opinions really matter because the state policies are going to affect us more and more as we grow older,” Pierce said.

The White House plans to continue the conversations with the panel participants through e-mail.

“I was excited and I was ready to talk about these issues and provide value to the conversation,” Pierce said. “I was there for business.”

Contact Caitlin Restelli at [email protected]