UR Medical Students Meet President Obama in Rochester

Aug. 21, 2013
SMD student Tina Jensen shakes hands with President Obama

Tina Jensen (MD ’14) and Mykael Garcia (MD ’14) were both a bit worried when a U.S. Secret Service agent pulled them aside Thursday afternoon near Park Avenue in Rochester.  He quickly put their fears to rest by telling them they had been selected to meet President Barack Obama.  The students, along with Kevin Graham of URMC’s Center for Community Health (CCH), were quickly ushered to Magnolia’s restaurant, where the President was finishing his lunch.

“I started shaking I was so excited,” says Jensen, who grew up in the suburb of Chili.

Obama shook each of their hands and spoke to them individually. While their conversations were brief, the memory will last a lifetime. The group took turns taking pictures after being forewarned by the Secret Service agent that people often forget meeting the President because they are too busy snapping photos of the experience.

Jensen and Garcia are spending a month working at CCH, 46 Prince Street, as part of a fourth-year course designed to show them how to inject their medical school learning into a community health program.  When they heard the President might be showing up on Park Avenue, they dropped what they were doing to see if they could catch a glimpse of the motorcade.  They were not anticipating a face-to-face encounter.

“To be part of this community health program and to have the President take the time to come to Rochester was really special.  It was nice to see him connecting with my hometown,” says Brighton’s Garcia, who had actually met the President before at Boston College.  “I thanked him for coming by.”

“He came out of the restaurant and said ‘You guys, it’s raining.  Thank you so much for waiting for me.’  He couldn’t have been any nicer,” says Jensen.

“I said ‘Mr. President, it has been an honor’ and he said ‘Thank you,’” recalls Graham, who is program and employment manager for the Teen Health and Success Partnerships program at CCH.  The program strives to help at-risk high school students finish school and prepare for a successful future.

Immediately after Obama climbed aboard his bus and departed, the trio was mobbed by local media eager to capture their stories.