Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA student awarded, helps him meet Obama

Last week a UA student was given the golden ticket: an invitation to meet President Obama in Washington DC.

Tyler Merriweather, a freshman studying accounting, was recently named the Boys and Girls Club of America’s Southeast Youth of the Year. This distinction is the ticket that landed him in the Oval Office early last week.

Merriweather said he began attending the Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, around the age of seven or eight and became a volunteer by age fifteen.

“I worked in the computer lab, did some tutoring and worked as an athletic coordinator in the gym,” he said. “I do a lot more hands-on with the kids since becoming staff in January of last year.”

After dedicating so much of his time to this chapter of the Boys and Girls Club, Merriweather said the opportunity to compete in a contest to meet President Obama became available to him.

“Basically you give a speech no longer than three minutes talking about the significance of your Boys and Girls Club,” he said. “You compete at five different levels including club, local, state, regional and nationals.”

(See also “Coach Grant takes part in charity voting tournament”)

He explained all of this started in May at the end of his senior year in high school, and the last national competition was held in September, where he was selected as the Southeast Youth of the Year. Interestingly enough, Merriweather’s first invitation to meet the president right after he won in September turned out uneventful.

“When we went in September we didn’t actually get to talk to him,” he said. “He was in a big rush so he flew out, but he promised to invite us back out.”

His trip in January, however, proved to be well worth the wait.

“As soon as I walked in he was like, ‘Hey, Mr. Merriweather’,” he said. “It was one of the most memorable experiences – he was so down to earth.”

Merriweather explained the meeting lasted about 20 to 30 minutes and he was given the opportunity to ask President Obama a few questions. His favorite one being – what advice would you give today’s youth?

“His answer was based on education,” he said. “He told us to not only dream, but to dream big dreams and after that it was don’t look at what you want to do in life and what salary you want to make, but look at what you’re good at and enjoy doing.”

When the group asked President Obama what it was he enjoyed doing that landed him in office today, Merriweather said the president explained he always desired to make a difference and to help people.

Stephen Miller, senior unit director at the West Alabama Chapter of Boys and Girls Club, said Tyler’s accomplishment serves to solidify all the good work they do as a team and that they can give kids all the opportunities they need for success.

“In Boys and Girls Club, the Oscar or the Grammy is to have a kid selected as Youth of the Year, so it was a win for this club,” Miller said. “We’re adhering to and accomplishing our mission.”

Miller explained that while Tyler did most of the groundwork, he helped critique his speech since he too won this competition when he attended the University in 2004.

“It’s been a great experience for Tyler and I’m just happy to have been associated and along for the ride,” he said.

Another student, Lindsey Cobb, a junior majoring in chemical engineering, explained that a student’s accomplishment this big is just as exciting for the University as a whole.

“It’s a representation of the caliber of students the University has been attracting in the last few years,” Cobb said. “It reflects not only on him as a person, but also UA overall in a positive light.”

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