Courtesy photo Jennifer Landry, from left to right, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Darren Kelly and Randy Miller in front of the capitol building.
By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
A Clovis High School student was chosen out of 212 students to attend the State of the Union Address.
Randy Miller, who was in Washington D.C. with the Close Up Program, was chosen by Congressman Ben Ray Lujan to attend the speech by President Barack Obama.
The Close Up Program is a non-partisan educational program that allows students to see government agencies working first hand.
“It was pretty different from what I’m used to going to,” Miller said. “It was fun.”
The Clovis chapter of the Close Up Program visits the D.C. area during last week of January each year, according to program sponsor Darren Kelley.
“Sometimes we’re here during the State of the Union address, but a Close Up student has never been chosen to attend,” Kelley said Friday from an airport in Baltimore, where the group is grounded by a winter storm while making their way home from the trip.
Kelley said each congressman is given one ticket and Lujan wanted to bring a student from New Mexico.
“I happened to be that lucky student,” Miller said. “I put on nice clothes and everything. I met up with Lujan at his office beforehand and he walked me over to the White House and took me to where I would be sitting.”
Miller said he was sitting 10 seats away and a row behind First Lady Michelle Obama. Then later that evening, Miller took a wrong turn and wound up five feet away from the President.
“It was pretty exciting,” Miller said. “During the speech, I couldn’t believe I was actually there sitting there listening to it. It was definitely a once in a lifetime chance.”
Kelley said he thinks Miller will learn to appreciate the experience more as he gets older.
“In a couple of years, he’ll realize how big a deal it really was,” Kelley said.