Summer 2009

GW Students Get Special White House Invitation

GW graduate student Maura Clark, junior Ningxi Xi and GW graduate student Josh
Bartell pose with actress and singer Tatyana Ali at “An Evening of Poetry, Music, and the
Spoken Word” at the White House May 12.

Five GW students got the invitation of a lifetime May 12—and it came directly from the White House. The office of University President Steven Knapp received a call May 11 inviting five GW students to attend “An Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word,” featuring actor James Earl Jones, Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, and osted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The five GW students—Laura Prevete, M.A. ’09, undergraduate students Lauren Weidmaier and Ningxi Xi and
graduate students Maura Clark and Josh Bartell—all serve in leadership positions as on-campus housing staff and were selected because of their interest and background in the arts and their contributions to GW, says Rebecca Sawyer, senior
assistant dean of students. “Our house staff work so hard during the academic year, we thought this would be a nice opportunity to thank a select group of them for all they do,” she says.

Prevete says she was shocked when she learned of her selection. Interested in dance and personal expression, Prevete said the spoken word performances by Jamaica
Osorio and Joshua Bennett “brought tears” to her eyes and pianist Eric Lewis’s performance made her want to dance. “I had the chance to meet [actor] Zach Braff and [Chief Washington Correspondent for ABC News] George Stephanopoulos, and I was able to tell the performers how much I enjoyed their poetry and music,” says Prevete. “It
was definitely a unique experience.”

“Stunned and honored” to attend, Clark says the event was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” She was particularly eager to meet Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. “I majored in English literature at the University of Pittsburgh, so I was especially excited to hear Chabon, a fellow Pitt grad who based a lot of his work in the city, speak,” says Clark.

The first of its kind at the White House, the event promoted the arts and the theme of dialogue through performances that showcased different voices and methods of communication.


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