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Incoming freshman reflects on singing for Obama

June 12, 2009 By Kiera Wiatrak

UW-Madison incoming freshman Kayla Jenerson kicked off President Barack Obama’s visit to Green Bay June 11 by singing the national anthem.

Jenerson, whose former principal chose her for the honor, says the experience was a success.

“I just gave it my all and sang my heart out,” she says. “The crowd cheered very loudly. It was the response that I was hoping for.”

Jenerson and her family skipped the eager line outside Southwest High School and were escorted into the building by the Secret Service. They were also given prime seats close to the podium.

“The people around me, after I came off, they were clapping and a lot of them gave me hugs and handshakes and congrats,” she says. “It was a really cool feeling.”

The audience included a few of Jenerson’s friends who are also incoming freshmen at UW–Madison.

“My friends were really supportive of the whole thing,” she says, “and to see me up there was great.”

Jenerson is looking forward to attending SOAR in July and beginning the semester as one of the newest members of Wisconsin Singers.

As an African-American woman, singing for the first U.S. African-American president was particularly meaningful for Jenerson, especially because last November her first time voting in a presidential election.

“I got to vote for the first African-American president,” she says. “That’s not why I voted for him, but it’s pretty cool.”

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