Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Land O'Lakes student to attend Obama's inauguration

Kiran Sharma, 16, will be at the inauguration Monday.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Kiran Sharma, 16, will be at the inauguration Monday.

LAND O'LAKES — Kiran Sharma has run for student council every year since grade school.

"I haven't been close yet," the Land O'Lakes High School junior acknowledged. "But I always run. I have always had a keen interest in politics."

So Sharma, 16, was more than a little excited to receive an invitation to participate in this year's Presidential Inaugural Conference, complete with special seating to watch Barack Obama's swearing-in on Monday. About 1,900 high school students from around the country were selected based largely on their academic achievement and leadership potential. Participants must pay $3,195 in tuition, plus travel and other expenses.

Sharma is the only student known to be attending from Pasco County.

"It is an honor to be invited," he said. "I view this as a once in a lifetime chance. There is really nothing like this."

The conference also will include visits to the Smithsonian museums and guest lectures by former NATO commander Wesley Clark and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Sharma's U.S. history teacher hasn't given him any extra work to prepare. But his grandmother has.

"I've printed out things on Condoleezza Rice for him to read on the plane ride," Brenda Medlin said. "I think she's great."

She turned to her grandson.

"Be sure to shake her hand," she instructed, as he grinned.

Sharma has visited Washington, D.C. before. And he has been around his share of political leaders. His uncle has hosted fundraisers for Obama and invited Sharma to a Democratic seminar in Nantucket, where he met officials who sparked his curiosity about how government can make a difference in the world.

"Our nation's history was built on politics," he said. "It's a way to communicate with countries around the world."

The son of a doctor, Sharma remains interested in studying medicine. But he also wants to create an international business.

He figured his International Baccalaureate classes, combined with a background in politics and language skills, could help him focus on his ambitions. First, though, he just wants to have some fun in the nation's capital.

That includes a black tie gala on the night of the inauguration.

"I actually have to rent out a tux," Sharma said. "It makes me feel like I'm older than 16."

He expected the actual inauguration to be inspiring.

"To me, President Obama stands as a great symbol for being a president. He came from a background that was not as fortunate. However, he strove to be the best he could be," Sharma said. "He really stands as a symbol of success to me. It's really important to me to stand and be that close."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at jsolochek@tampabay.com, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Land O'Lakes student to attend Obama's inauguration 01/17/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker fundraiser

    Blogs

    Rick Baker kicked off a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Morean Arts Center making light of his 40-minute announcement speech two weeks ago on the steps of City Hall.

    Rick Baker speaks at a fundraiser at the Morean Arts Center Tuesday
  2. How did Florida National Guard miss soldier's neo-Nazi leanings?

    Military

    Brandon Russell, a private first class assigned to Company C of the 53rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion in Pinellas Park, has been in the Florida National Guard since February, 2016.

    Brandon Russell, 21, of Tampa, is a Florida National Guardsman accused in a federal complaint of illegal possession of explosives. [From YouTube]
  3. New stores coming to Tyrone Square Mall, like Bath & Body Works

    Retail

    Tyrone Square Mall will welcome a half dozen new stores, like Bath & Body Works and MidiCi's The Neapolitan Pizza Company, this summer.

  4. Wilson Ramos feeling good and confident, eyeing late June return to Rays

    Blogs

    Sitting on the bench in the Rays dugout in his full catcher's gear, Wilson Ramos talked excitedly Tuesday about the progress in his recovery from right knee surgery and the potential to be back in the major leagues by this time next month.

    "I feel like a player right now,'' Ramos said.

    Wilson Ramos is aiming to be back with the Rays by this time next month.
  5. Hernando teacher faces sexual battery charges

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — Deputies arrested a teacher on charges of sexual battery Tuesday, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office said.