June 17th, 2008
12:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama comforts crying community college student


Watch Sen. Obama's entire meeting with Marilyn Pace and her financial aid counselor.

(CNN) – Things got emotional during Sen. Barack Obama’s visit to a Michigan community college Tuesday.

Obama met individually with student Marilyn Pace, who is studying dental hygiene, and her financial aid counselor, Marcus McGrew, before speaking with a group of students at Wayne Community College in Taylor, Michigan.

Pace broke down in front of Obama and began crying after explaining the financial stresses she is facing while trying to get her education, help take care of her disabled father, and cope with the costs of commuting to school with the high price of gasoline.

WATCH Obama comforts crying student

“It sounds like you’re going to make it. You’re going to be fine,” Obama told Pace as she wiped away tears once McGrew explained his plan to finance Pace’s shortfall without additional debt. “We’re proud of you. You’re doing a great job. The key is just hanging in there,” he added.

Obama delivered a speech to a group of students at the community college after meeting with Pace. Stephanie Baker, whose daughter is studying full-time at another college and struggling academically, asked Obama what advice he would give her daughter.

“My main message to your daughter would be: stick with it,” Obama said. “Because the costs of not getting through school, not keeping your grades up are so much greater,” the presumptive Democratic nominee said. “There’s a million-dollar difference between the lifetime earnings of somebody who got a high school education and a college education. It is still the best investment that you can make,” Obama added.

WATCH Obama’s college advice

After the event, the students, many of whom are studying dental hygiene like Pace, presented Obama with a gift. “On your campaign trail, we have to make sure you have a healthy mouth because we don’t want cavities in office,” a student told Obama as she presented him with an electronic toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and several more toothbrushes. “This is like a lifetime supply. Wow, this is perfect,” he said. “This is an outstanding gift,” he added after showing off his new dental wares to his aide, Reggie Love.

WATCH Obama gets a gift for his pearly whites

During his prepared remarks at the college, Obama detailed his proposals to make college more affordable including a $4000 tuition tax credit granted in exchange for performing 100 hours of community service, reforming the federal student loan system by requiring direct lending of federal loans, and increasing the maximum amount of federal Pell grants.

In a statement released prior to Obama’s remarks Tuesday, the McCain campaign highlighted the Arizona senator’s proposals to reform the federal unemployment insurance system and to strengthen community colleges and technical training.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Michigan
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Ralph

    Too bad it wasn't McCain. She would have felt more comfortable being comforted by a great-grandfather type. Don't you think?

    June 17, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. Xena


    June 17, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. AJ

    Pardon me while I vomit...

    June 17, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Monte - Ex Democrat

    What a cheap shot at a political photo-op!

    June 17, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  5. Rachel

    Oh come on.

    June 17, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    and this girl's story isnt even CLOSE to being unique!!

    the repugs have slashed financial aid, cuz it sure aint in their best interest to have an educated citizenry.

    i LOVE obama's community service idea. the neoCONs have turned us all against each other and kept us so stressed, that so many people just dont care about anyone else but themselves. this would be a great requirement, cuz contrary to what FOX tells you, we dems DO NOT believe in just handing out free money!!!!

    NO MORE NEOCONS!!!!!!!

    June 17, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  7. Independant Thinker

    Talk about another setup.

    They faint for him. Yah right, OBama wasn't a Beatle.

    They cry for him. Oh my.

    Talk about a FAKE.

    June 17, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. Felly

    Obama is the real deal. Change is on the way, and yes, we can!

    June 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  9. Aspire

    I am sure she wanted a bear "hug" from the future president - but hey, he is not Bill Clinton !!

    June 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  10. Brian Knoxville TN

    I am almost in tears – I can't do it anymore! I can't keep selling my soul.I admit it! I am no democrat.
    The fact is, my party. the GOP has put such an old and weak candidate that we have to try even harder this time to sell our lies.No option, but to spread hate among democrats and
    win this election.BEst part is, I get paid for lying.Now which party does that?Fact is, I am affected by high gas prices,high food prices, high cost of medical insurance and all that.I know my party or McCain doesnt or will not have any solutions for our problems.
    My party is run by the lobbyists.McCain is no different.{He didn't hesitate to take the $300,000 from the "rape" millionaire}

    Vote McCain for the "same" old BS !

    June 17, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. nick

    i have a feeling that was all planned out! who agrees! haha!

    June 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Venus

    I love it!

    Go get em' Bam! Time for a change!

    June 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  13. Ready for Change

    Words of encouragement always help. Hang in there Marilyn Pace. The Lord will reward you ten times over. Your dad couldn't ask for a better daughter.

    Obama '08

    June 17, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  14. MD

    Stop acting like know-it-alls and saying this was a political move. Obama didn't criticize Clinton when she cried in NH, and he didn't call it a political move. College students are struggling with prices of school these days. The cost of education is sky-rocketing. Obama knows these issues and will work to solve them, unlike McCain who refuses to address them.

    June 17, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. JD

    She should grateful that she is reducing her carbon footprint. Why doesn't she understand that it is for the best?

    June 17, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  16. SheWill

    Not so fast. The advise he gave her, in uneducated terms for me, was "hang in there, education is far more important than the tons of money and hardships you are facing." How is that helping her feel better? So goes, the promises he made to help college students with their debts and hardships. But, I am uneducated..so, maybe I'm not anyone to even give an opinion on this photo op.

    June 17, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  17. PG

    Typical response from anti-Obama people. Deep inside they are so disappointed with their own candidate (McClown) that they wish they could be part of our MOVEMENT. Come on people you are welcome to our team. We will not pinpoint your ignorance for McClown. People are truly hurting in our country and those who think otherwise are either brain dead, in denial or both.

    Thanks Obama for the hope you give us!

    June 17, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  18. Chris, American in London

    I almost started crying while reading this article. I'm in a very emotional mood.

    June 17, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  19. Emily

    Wow, you can clean the pessimism up with a mop from all five comments so far. Coming from this situation myself, I can see not only was she overwhelmed at having to tell her story, but also at the sheer surrealism of the moment. How do you purport to know the heart of anyone? Pride cometh before a fall.

    June 17, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Meoaka

    Why does this has to be fake I dont think so. Obama is the real deal and Im a college student and lately I break down because Im a single parent, gas is what 5.00 dollers a gallon, and food is going up so I guess when I break down im acting. Obama will be the next president no one can stop him thats is why I love America!!!!!!!

    June 17, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |