Last Friday, Sept. 22, Vice President Mike Pence visited Anderson to promote tax reform. While in town, several AU students had the opportunity to not only see him speak, but also shake his hand and pose for a photo.
“I feel way more important than I really am after this,” said Glen Shinn, a senior music education major from Akron, Ohio. “My fear is that my life has peaked and I’ll never do anything cooler than this. Hopefully that is not the case.”
Pence’s visit marked the first time that a current president or vice president had visited Anderson in 65 years. The last time it occurred was with Harry Truman in 1952.
“It was an honor and privilege to meet Vice President Pence,” said Josh Senft, a junior national security studies major from Middletown, Ohio. Senft, who is the president of AU’s chapter of College Republicans, continued, “I shook his hand, introduced myself and thanked him for his hard work for our country. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘Keep it up. You’ll be here one day.’ His sincerity and kindness was very heartwarming.”
After taking a photo with Senft, Pence even signed his pocket constitution.
“It was a humbling experience, and he’s a very humble man,” said Kaitlyn Ewing, a sophomore political science and national security studies major from Anderson.
“I didn’t expect Vice President Mike Pence to be such a down-to-earth guy,” said Shinn. “We asked for a picture and he said ‘Sure, how about I take it! Let’s take a selfie together!’ I’ll never forget that moment.”
SGA President Hamilton Smith, a senior marketing major from Anderson, said that he was “honored to have been able to see the vice president, with his deep roots in Anderson, and the White House in action.”
Pence’s Anderson roots go back many years. From 2001-13, he represented Madison County in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as Indiana’s governor from Jan. 2013 until this year when he assumed the office of vice president under the Trump administration.
“I’ve learned that he’s a very approachable person, even with a demanding schedule,” said Smith, who had met Pence previously due to his involvement with local politics. “Despite his local engagement in the past, it was surreal to see him as the sitting vice president of the United States. It’s simply a different feeling to shake the hand of the second most powerful man in the United States. It’s surreal.”
Madison Krueger, a senior music business major from Indianapolis, also had a surreal experience with Pence.
The night before Pence was scheduled to arrive, she was asked by her voice coach, Dr. Richard Sowers, if she would perform the National Anthem before Pence spoke.
“I couldn’t say no,” she said.
Then, when Krueger exited the stage, Pence shook her hand and asked to take a photo with her.
“He asked for a picture with me, not the other way around,” she said. “This is something I’ll tell my grandkids about.”
Others echoed her sentiment.
“I look forward to telling my children and grandchildren about the time I met the Vice President of the United States,” said Senft.
“The Vice President of the United States shook my hand and spoke with me,” said Shinn. “It was truly an incredible moment.”