Kent Trespalacios is a 13-year-old Palmetto Middle School student born and raised in Pinecrest who enjoys playing video games with friends after school, helping his teacher grade papers for community service civics projects and debating politics with his dad.
Although his father Jose is a Republican and Kent sides with the Democrats, when the chance came up to visit President Barack Obama on his recent visit to Miami, the whole family supported the mission. Kent and mother Krista had the opportunity to meet President Obama at a Biltmore Hotel luncheon following Obama’s visit to the University of Miami. Not only did he get a big hug from the president, he also received an autographed note complete with embossed presidential seal and the notation to “dream big dreams, Kent.”
“We were standing there and I was like ‘Oh my God, it’s the president! I’m finally going to meet him,’” said Kent. “I was beside myself; I couldn’t believe it and I started tearing up and he came up to me and he said, ‘It’s okay, buddy’ and asked me my name and gave me a big hug and shook my hand.”
To hear Kent speak about President Obama is like listening to a youthful George Stephanopoulos in his early days on the campaign trail for President Clinton. He is an articulate spokesman for the Commander in Chief.
“I look up to President Obama because I see him as a role model,” he said. “He is a kind person, not like the rest of the politicians. He was raised by his grandparents after his father left for Kenya and then he began to community organize. Bush left a huge crisis and Obama is set to fix it; people may think he is doing a terrible job, but he’s accomplished a lot in three years.”
Wearing his best suit and tie in the Biltmore Hotel ballroom, the Trespalacios mother-and-son team dined on salad, chicken and pasta and apple pie while chatting with fellow Obama supporters about the Republican primary circus.
“We met two nice older people and we were discussing issues and my mom got the lady a drink,” said Kent. “Her name was Edi and she was saying how she couldn’t watch the Republican debates on TV because she just can’t take it anymore.
Lunch was first and then we waited for Obama. The program started with Senator Bill Nelson and then Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced the president.”
Getting a chance to receive a hug and a note from President Obama did not just happen. An industrious and quick thinking Kent got to work on how to receive a personal introduction.
“I was trying to figure out the fastest way to get to where he was standing, so I turned around and squeezed in among the crowd and asked a Secret Service agent if I could walk up and shake his hand and he said yes.”
Kent has his future sights set on inheriting President Obama’s job.
“I would like to run for president when I am older,” he said. “I debate my dad all the time and he has different views then I do. I also debate with my abuelo because he is a Republican, too. As President I would create more jobs because unemployment is too high and I would eliminate the wars because they are costing money and we need to lower our debt.”
Kent’s dad paid for the tickets to the luncheon as an early birthday gift for his son. The entire family was overjoyed when Kent called them after his presidential rendezvous.
“I called all my family members right after I met him; my grandma and grandpa started crying because they were so happy for me. I told my teachers and everyone at school. It was a great experience.”