On Friday, March 20th, I was invited to attend the 2nd White House Film Festival as a member of the press for Swarthmore’s daily campus newspaper, The Daily Gazette (where I have been Editor-in-Chief for the past year). After deciding to take advantage of this crazy opportunity (and talking to professors who excitedly let me make-up class on another day so I could go!) I booked a ZipCar to head to Washington. I got up at 5:00am and started the 2ish hour drive to our capital.
Swarthmore’s awesome location sets us not only less than 30 minutes from Philadelphia but between two and three hours from both New York City and Washington D.C. So in just a few quick hours I got to the White House and embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I started my day out by relaxing at a coffee shop catching up on some of my work for classes back at Swat before grabbing lunch with a friend who goes to George Washington University.
After lunch, I finally headed to the White House Press Gate to check-in and go through security (and take an obligatory Snapchat with the White House geofilter!).
Walking through the gates for the first time was surreal. I was escorted to the press room where I was free to relax for the next hour before we headed into the White House’s East Room for the film festival.
I seriously felt like I was in a dream. I got to watch the last few minutes of that day’s press briefing and I was feet away from some of my journalism idols. Mike Allen, Politico’s Chief White House Correspondent and writer of the famous Politico Playbook, walked by me and I was in awe. I took some time to connect and network with journalists from different press outlets who were curious about why I was so far from Swarthmore for a one day event. My answer: “How could a film and political science student pass up the opportunity to cover the White House Film Festival?”
Eventually the press was moved into the East Room for the Film Festival (read about it HERE!) and I was able to stand less than ten yards from President Obama so I must say that was pretty cool. Also, Steve McQueen (director of 12 Years a Slave) was there so I got to see one of my directing idols as well. It was really a whirlwind of a day.
After leaving the White House, I got sushi with my aunt and uncle before driving back to Swarthmore. It also got me thinking: I never would have had opportunities like these if I had gone to a school further from a major city. Because Philly is so close to two other major East Coast cities I’m able to easily travel between the two. In two weeks I’m heading to New York City for a journalism conference at the New York Times, so look out for that!