Unforgettable day as a member of the White House Press

Photo Courtesy of Michelle Mayans. OFFICIAL: On Friday, Jan. 30 Madison Gibson took her duties as a member of KidScoop Media to the White House. During her visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Gibson attended two events hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.
Photo Courtesy of Michelle Mayans.

Friday, Jan. 30 was not a regular day for this 13-year-old. As a reporter for KidScoop Media I attended two events where First Lady Michelle Obama was speaking: one at the National Geographic Museum and one the other at The White House.

At 9:15 a.m. I arrived at the National Geographic Museum and stepped into the area where the press was assigned to wait. After about 30 minutes we were cleared by security and sent to the press area of the auditorium. Upon entering there were a ton of people already inside. This event was called “Got Your 6,” a military term meaning “got your back.”

The “Got Your 6” campaign brings together government, Hollywood and non-profits to encourage realistic portrayals of veterans in the media and to uplift real-life veterans.  It teaches that veterans are leaders; team builders and problem solvers and they have an incredible wealth of knowledge to share with their communities when they return home.

This event taught me that as Americans we all need to support out troops, not only when they are in the service, but when they come out as well. They need to transition from the Armed Forces into our communities and they need everyone’s support to do so. It was incredible to see the panel of commentators, which included Hollywood Producers Bruce Cohen and Stephanie Drachkovitch, Berlanti Productions President Sarah Schechter, Co-President of the Producers Guild of America Lori McCreary, and Bradley Cooper, the actor and producer who stars in the acclaimed movie “American Sniper.”

Prior to the event beginning, I had the opportunity to speak with Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Jennifer Kasker.  She spoke with me about her views on the event and the need for all of us, including kids, to support our troops when they are away and when they come home.

First Lady Michelle Obama took the podium after the panel discussion and was incredible.  The passion that she has for “Got Your 6” was apparent with every word she said.  She explained that the media currently portrays veterans with one of two lenses: broken and perfect. The truth – that veterans are complex human beings – needs to be portrayed.  The idea behind “Got Your 6” is for the media, from the writers to producers to actors and everyone in between, to put a focus on an accurate view of veterans and to work on helping with their transition home.

The event ended with a challenge from Charlie Ebersol, President and CEO of The Company, for all media to go home and think about the content of what they are producing and to do more for our veterans. Ebersol asked that everyone go home and not just have gratitude but live it.

As soon as the event was over I had to leave quickly and rush over to The White House for the next event of the day.

I arrived at The White House at 1:15 p.m., ready for the next adventure.  As I waited at the security gate, I started feeling anxious and a little nervous.  At my age, who gets to do this?  I felt very lucky!  Once we stepped through the gate the security officer checked my identification and gave me a press pass. We went through the security screening and were told to go to The White House Briefing Room. We might have been press but we didn’t know the way to the Briefing Room. Security told us to walk down the driveway and turn. As I was walking I kept staring at the White House and could not believe that I was actually there.  Seeing the White House on the opposite side of the gates was incredible.  I really wanted to take a picture, but that was not allowed.  I made my way to the waiting area in the Briefing Room and waited.

The moment I had been waiting for was here.  We were all escorted inside The White House and into the East Room. When I walked in there were two things that I noticed: a Marine was playing the piano and the place was spotless and sparkling.  I know that sounds weird, of course The White House would be clean, but it was more than just clean.  It was full of shine and was beautiful.  I walked into the East Room and was in the press area.  I was able to have a full view of the room and the event to honor school counselors. What a way to be honored.

First Lady Michelle Obama honored the 2015 School Counselor of the Year finalists and semifinalists at this event as part of her Reach Higher Initiative.  Connie Britton, who portrayed a school counselor on the show “Friday Night Lights,” was also on hand to give her perspective on school counselors and the need for these extraordinary professionals to be honored.  This was the first time this event was hosted at the White House. Once again the passion that Michelle Obama had for this group of individuals was very clear in her smile and in the words that she spoke. Watching and listening to her makes me want to be a better person.

Once the event ended, we were escorted back to the Briefing Room, where I had one more experience of a lifetime. I was able to stand at the podium in the Briefing Room.  I felt great standing there and started thinking about the possibilities of my future.  I thought “this could be me someday.”  I am not sure what I want to do yet, but journalism, politics, or school counselor may be in my future.

Being a young reporter in Washington, D.C. is awesome. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be a part of this adult world of the White House Press. I learned a number of things from this experience, but the biggest one is that anything is possible. I never would have believed that I could be a part of the White House Press for a day or that I would be able to see the White House from inside the gates.

If you would like more information about Culver City-based KidScoop Media, please see their website at www.kidscoopmedia.org.