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Clayton State student reflects on meeting, introducing President Joe Biden

(May 22, 2024) - With another election year currently in motion, many Americans will once again watch and listen to the actions and words of those running for president while having never actually met a presidential candidate.

Clayton State junior Desera Lennon takes a selfie with the Bidens at the president's March 2024 campaign rally event

But for Government and Law junior Desera Lennon, she can no longer say that’s the case.

Not only did Lennon get to meet President Joe Biden this spring, she was also selected to personally introduce both him and the first lady for a rally event at Pullman Yards in Atlanta on Saturday, March 9, 2024.

“I work at the capital for the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus,” Lennon said. “I got the internship through Clayton State – that’s where it all started.” 

Lennon said that a few months into the internship, one of her coordinators was approached by a colleague with connections to the election rally – a rally that needed someone to introduce Pres. Biden.

Lennon said that the process went “quick,” and before she knew it, she was selected to introduce the nation’s 46th president.

“I work a second job as a supervisor at Victoria’s Secret,” Lennon said. “The day before, I let the girl I was opening with know, ‘I’m introducing the President ... can I leave right on time?’ She said, ‘You’re introducing the president?! Don’t even come in!’”

Additionally, while many may think the entire day would rotate around such a momentous responsibility, Lennon said that it simply started like any other day would. 

“At the beginning of the day, I had to go to work,” Lennon said. “Right after work, I went straight there with my grandparents. We got there, had to go through Secret Service, and did a small walkthrough to make sure everything in my speech was together and cleared through the White House so they could print it off for me. It was a pretty long day.”

Lennon recalled that when she first arrived to Pullman Yards, Pres. Biden had yet to arrive.

While waiting, she was brought into a holding room where she met and took pictures with Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.

But it wouldn’t be much longer before she was finally introduced to the Bidens.

“There were about four speakers there, so they wanted all of us to be ready to go up on stage,” Lennon said. “Once the others went, they called me to another back room and that’s when I met the president. We had a short conversation and [they thanked] me for doing this. Then we went up on stage.” 

Lennon admitted that she was initially “super nervous” when going to meet the president and first lady, but then said it simply turned into an everyday “casual interaction.”

“I thought it was going to be way more serious, but it wasn’t” Lennon said. “They were super sweet, super nice, super friendly. They were trying to make me as comfortable as possible because meeting the president and first lady is a different ballgame. I’ve done things where I’ve had to get up in front of people before, especially being in my major. But this was totally different. The nerves were intensified times two. It was overwhelming.” 

Lennon said that following her speech, she and Dr. Biden walked off stage to a supportive and encouraging crowd who all told her that she did a fantastic job.

From there, Lennon said that she simply waited alongside the first lady for the president to finish his speech. 

Once he did, she received a picture with the presidential family before reuniting with her grandparents, who she said were “treated like royalty,” and heading home. 

On her way out of the rally, Lennon said that she was stopped by numerous people all wanting to congratulate her for her accomplishment.

“I saw a Clayton State alumna who stopped me and said, ‘you’re putting Clayton State on the map!’” Lennon said. “We’re so proud of you.”

On top of her experience, it will also be Lennon’s first election, as Dr. Biden pointed out while introducing the junior Laker. 

While she admitted that there are many in her generation who don’t necessarily see the importance behind voting, Lennon fervently believes that every vote counts and says it’s important to go out and vote whenever you can.

“Go vote!” Lennon said. “Go get your word out. If you feel like something needs to be done, call your elective. If you’re on the fence about things, talk to your government and law students. Go and do some research, if needed. But do something ... being idle is not making it better for anybody.”

In addition to all who supported her at the rally, Lennon expressed further gratitude to the Natl. Council of Negro Women, who she said were the first people to post or bring initial attention to her about introducing the president.

She’s also grateful to Clayton State University and its encouraging faculty in the Department of Social Sciences for further helping her find her internship.

“I love this internship,” Lennon said. “I am around intelligent and like-minded people with great aspirations. I have met with and even networked with an ample number of people which I thought was impossible. The biggest change I have seen in myself is taking risks and trusting in God’s plan.” 

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