Barack Obama's Kalamazoo Commencement Speech: A Busy Day With The Leader Of The Free World

Nicole Allen's Monday started out like pretty much any other graduating high school senior's: With an interview with Kalamazoo's local CBS affiliate.

Allen was one of several Kalamazoo Central High School students responsible for creating the winning entry in the White House's "Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge," a video called "We Are The Giants," which showcased Central's achievements in education and college preparedness, and as a result, she was partially responsible for the prize that came along with winning: President Barack Obama, who came to town to deliver the commencement speech at Central's graduation ceremony.

And that made her a bit of a local celebrity — which in turn made her day really, really hectic.

"My day started at 6:30 with the interview with CBS, and then I came home and tried to take a nap, but that didn't work out to well," Allen laughed. "Then, I had [graduation] rehearsal from about 8:30 to 10, and after that I went home and finally managed to take that nap."

Of course, after that nap was when her day got really interesting. Excited for Obama's appearance, she started getting ready for graduation around 2 p.m., and was all set to head over to the campus of Western Michigan University for the ceremony when disaster struck in the form of a very leaky car tire.

"We tried to patch it, but couldn't figure it out! Luckily, my uncle from Georgia was in town, so he drove us," Allen said. "But I was so nervous I was going to miss the ceremony!"

It's a good thing she got there when she did, because Allen — like all the Central seniors — was treated to a surprise pre-graduation visit from President Obama himself. No one expected it, and yes, there were tears.

"We were sitting in the room, and then all of a sudden, out walks the president!" Allen enthused. "It was completely a surprise! When he came in I cried, but then, I cried when I found out we won. People say I'm emotional, but it was so unexpected. I burst out crying. I was shaking. My whole body was. I mean, the president is standing right in front of us! That doesn’t happen every day, and to be in high school and have the president give your commence speech — I won't ever forget that."

In the fall, Allen will attend Western Michigan University ("and law school after that"), but when MTV News spoke to her late Monday night, she had more pressing matters on her mind: How was she going to celebrate her graduation night.

"They never fixed the leak in our tire, and my uncle's not here, so I'll probably be laying my head down any second now," she said. "It's been a long day."


Don't miss Simon Boehme's and Xavier Bolden's videos about President Obama's visit to Kalamazoo!

Get Schooled is a national program aimed at increasing high school and college graduation rates and promoting the importance of education, developed by Viacom in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.