Student leaders visit White House for Women’s History Month


The White House hosted a “Women in History” panel, featuring notable women in different fields, followed by a reception in the East Wing of the White House on March 18. The event was held to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Seniors Minh Bui, Saloni Chaswal, Allison Chou, Priyal Gandhi, Sam Hoegle, Carrie Sun, Kaley Thornton, Michelle Wang and Mary Kim Weidman and juniors Anwar Omeish and Hannah Pho were selected to attend the event, along with tjTODAY reporters, seniors Tahmina Achekzai, Mallika Patkar and Thrisha Potluri.

Students first visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), where the “Woman in History” program was introduced by Tony and Obie Award winning playwright and actress Sarah Jones. The following panel discussion was moderated by MSNBC journalist Alex Wagner and featured Indian-American astronaut Sunni Williams, A&E Networks CEO Abbe Raven, WNBA star Tamika Catchings and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta.

“I was really inspired by Sunni Williams because she went through a similar path I want to pursue,” Weidman said. “She went to the Naval Academy and wasn’t really sure how she would fit in or what she would do in the future, but she became a famous astronaut.”

After each of the women answered questions posed by Wagner and shared their personal stories about how they got to where they were, the audience was directed to the East Wing of the White House.

Following a repeat performance by Sarah Jones, the senior adviser to the president Valerie Jarrett briefly talked about female leaders. Afterwards, guest Amanda McMillan shared her personal story of struggling with gender equality and finally introduced President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

After delivering a brief speech to celebrate women’s progress in history, both Obama and the First Lady shook hands and greeted the audience before leaving.

“It’s really different seeing them in person than on TV,” Weidman said. “At first, I was excited to see them, because who wouldn’t be? But it wasn’t until I actually saw them in person that everything seemed surreal.”