Jenna Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, spoke at Cal Poly Thursday about her experiences abroad and to promote her new book, “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope.” Nha Ha – Mustang Daily

Jenna Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, spoke about her experiences with organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), her work as a correspondent on the “TODAY Show” and her passion for teaching on Thursday morning.

Hager was the first speaker in Cal Poly’s Provocative Perspective Series, which is supported by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, but was unavailable for an interview while at Cal Poly.

During her speech, Hager said she would not focus on American politics, even though she is the daughter of a former president.

“This is not a political speech … my sister and I are not interested in traditional American politics,” Hager said. “Instead, policy is what drives our interest.”

Agricultural science sophomore Morgan Dahl attended the presentation and said she enjoyed this aspect of Hager’s speech.

“I liked the fact that she steered away from the whole politics thing,” Dahl said. “(Her presentation) was more about helping people.”

Hager and her sister originally disliked the idea of her father running for president, she said.

“(My sister and I) wanted to be normal college kids, but we quickly realized the amazing privileges of living history.”

Hager spoke about how her experience as the President’s daughter actually helped shape her to want to volunteer and help others abroad.

“I was fortunate to travel to foreign lands and was deeply moved by what I saw there,” she said. “It was these trips to Africa that motivated me to begin working with HIV/AIDS and the rights of women and children all over the world.”

Hager also discussed how she planned to share stories of the places she has seen, the people she has met and especially the remarkable children and teenagers who have deeply affected her life.

After Hager graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 with a degree in English, she taught at an inner city school for two years in Washington, D.C. This teaching job was very demanding and challenging, she said in her presentation.

“Teaching can take a lot out of you, but it’s often the good things in life that are hard won,” Hager said.

Many of the children at the school had family who immigrated from Latin American countries, which Hager said sparked her interest in visiting those countries.

In the fall of 2006, Hager volunteered “to intern in the educational policy department, for UNICEF’s Latin America and Caribbean office,” she said.

“The children I met (there) are dealing with staggering levels of poverty, dislocation and disease,” Hager said. “Many lack even a basic primary level education and far too many are HIV positive.”

Hager said she met a young woman while working in Latin America named Ana, whom she wrote a book about entitled “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope,” which she signed at a book signing following her presentation.

Ana was born with HIV and both her parents and sister died from the disease by the time she was in sixth grade. Hager said Ana was later forced to quit school at 16-years-old to take care of her daughter, Beatrice.

“Ana changed my life, she was only 17 but she had lived the life of someone so much older,” Hager said. “She lived an extremely difficult life.”

However, there was some good news in Ana’s life, which Hager spoke about.

On Hager’s first trip back to Latin America, she learned Beatrice tested negative for HIV after Ana had taken extra precautions and was educated about how to live with HIV and keep her daughter virus-free.

“I was so moved by this woman’s maturity and articulation that for the next nine months that I lived in the region I met with her everyday,” Hager said.

Hager told the audience she hopes her stories about others both on the “TODAY Show” and in her book will encourage others.

“I believe the more we know about the plight of people all over the world, the more likely we are to help others,” she said.

Hager also recounted her experiences with other people she met in her work with the “TODAY Show,” such as a young mother named Lydia from Guatemala with five malnourished children and Delia Perez in Texas, the first member of her family to attend college who now runs an after-school program which encourages students to apply to college.

Hager said she emphasizes the importance of individuals who need help because this motivates others.

“It’s the details of people’s lives that resonate with us, their life stories are what encourage us to change, to learn and to take action,” she said.

Hager has worked on the “TODAY Show” for approximately a year and produces about one segment a month in addition to her current teaching career, she said.

Students who attended Hager’s presentation were interested to hear her speak but many weren’t sure as to what the presentation would entail.

“I haven’t read her book but it just felt like a good opportunity to check out,” said landscape architecture senior Nicole Doud. “I’d just like to see what she has to say and because she’s a former President’s daughter (it’s) interesting.”

Liberal studies freshman Michelle Fantozzi said she wanted to hear Hager speak because she’s interested in volunteering abroad.

“I’m becoming a teacher but I’ve been interested in missionary work for a couple of years,” she said.

Hager’s words also made an impact on industrial technology freshman Chad Falloon.

“I thought it was really cool and inspiring and made me want to get involved,” he said. “I was just really curious (to hear Hager speak) — I didn’t know anything about her before.”

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1 Comment

  1. So, how much of our money did asi fork over so that we could have the pleasure of listening to this little fascist spawn speak about — of all things — compassion? Oh well, I guess I cant blame her. After all, it is a pretty good racket — $20,000 to $50,000 to talk to a bunch of ignorant tards for an hour or so. Dont worry about rampant economic genocide, we have UNICEF! I bet she’s talking shit about our stupid, 2nd rate university and administration right now (after all, we’re no yale)! But she smiles, looks pretty, speaks eloquently, and is famous, so the illogical shit that pours out of her mouth is lapped up with enthusiasm by the masses of wannabes plaguing society. Generally speaking, we’ve become so dumbed down that we’ll believe anything.

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