She brought to light a message of optimism despite the AIDS epidemic and natural disasters like those in Japan and Haiti. Ms. Bush spoke in front of The Staten Island Historical Society about the importance of literacy at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn.
Ms. Bush began her address by saying thank you to the Staten Island Historical Society. "Thank you for being here to promote literature and education on Staten Island. At Richmondtown, kids and teachers have a place to go and learn in a living museum.
In the audience was 17 year-old Ashley Cameron from Curtis High School on Staten Island who came to see the "President's daughter." Khalid Breazil, 16, also from Curtis High School came because he "wanted to see what he could learn from the President's daughter." Based on the positive reaction from the crowd, Jenna Bush Hager appeared to have gotten straight A's from her remarks.
Ms. Hager is very involved in charitable work. A former intern for UNICEF, she now chairs the UNICEF's NEXT GENERATION. Speaking in front of an audience of 250 people at the Staten Island Hilton Garden Inn, Jenna Hager was poised, poetic, kind-hearted and surprisingly down to earth. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English, Hager has worked as an inner city teacher in Washington D.C.
As part of the initiative on literacy at the event, the tables were stacked with reading material for guests in attendance to enjoy. Ms. Hager was engaging with her audience telling unusual anecdotes about her experiences as a child growing up with her Grandfather George Bush at the White House.
"I was seven years old when I played house with my sister Barbara and my cousins at The White House and sardines on the great lawn," Hager quipped. Public speaking is very much in Ms. Hager's blood. Twin sisters Barbara and Jenna were told at 17 that their Dad was running for President. "We just wanted to be normal college students." Jenna talked of meeting the Pope, the Texas Longhorns, and traveling to foreign lands to meet leaders like Prince Charles." Ms. Hager spoke of her mother the former First Lady Laura Bush and what life was like being the daughter of a librarian. "Our pet cat was named Dewey after the Dewey Decimal System.
"It was on a trip to Africa that I decided to focus on HIV/AIDS as a charitable effort," added Ms. Hager. A former intern from UNICEF, Ms. Hager is the author of "Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope." "Ana is an orphan from Guatemala who was abused, beaten, and left school at 16 to take care of her child. Ana got the education that she needed," Ms. Hager added. "Ana knew what she needed to do to keep her child healthy." When asked why Jenna Hager chose Ana to profile the HIV/AIDS epidemic, she said: "Ana represents 2.3 million kids around the world living with HIV."
Ms. Hager, as the chairwoman of UNICEF"S Next Generation, is deeply concerned about the plight of Haitians and Japanese following the recent natural disasters. "My Dad and President Clinton are still working in Haiti under President Obama. They are working from the bottom up. President Clinton and my Dad know that Haiti will not be rebuilt for 10 years," according to Jenna Hager.
Jenna Hager talked of her experiences as an inner city teacher in Washington D.C. She added, "Even when I slept I dreamed of my students. It is a privilege and a responsibility to help people in need. Sometimes you find teachers in the most unexpected places."
Written by Mark Riegel, MD