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Southwestern Student Participates in Event at the White House

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    Senior computer science major Natalia Rodriguez took this photo of President Obama and Tumblr founder David Karp during their June 10 Q & A event at the White House.
  • News Image
    Southwestern student Natalia Rodriguez (looking at camera) can be seen in this photo that was taken at the June 10 event at the White House.
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    Natalia Rodriguez

First-ever Tumblr Q&A focused on education and college debt

A Southwestern student was one of a dozen bloggers from around the world who were selected to participate in an event at the White House in June.

The June 10 event focused on education and college debt and was organized by Tumblr, a popular microblogging platform. Tumblr founder David Karp said these issues are particularly relevant to the Tumblr community because more than 40 percent of its users are between the ages of 18-34.

The White House also is on Tumblr, and participated in the event as part of its ongoing series of “White House Socials” that invite people to engage with administration officials through a variety of social media platforms.

Senior computer science major Natalia Rodriguez says she has been an avid Tumblr user since she was 15. She has a personal blog on Tumblr and also has a blog about a project she started at Southwestern called “Real People, Real Beauty.”

This summer, Rodriguez is interning for a tech company in New York called Temboo, and her job involves doing social media for the company, in addition to coding and writing for them. “The day the event was announced, my job was to be on Tumblr,” she says.

Rodriguez scrambled to get in an application, which included links to her Tumblr blogs as well as a short essay. In her essay, Rodriguez talked about her educational experience at Southwestern, and how she has benefitted from a combination of classwork and internships. She also talked about how she feels America is falling behind other countries when it comes to technology education.

“Kids here should know how to create technology, not just use it,” she says.

Rodriguez says she applied to attend the event on a Wednesday, was told that Friday she had been accepted, and the event was the following Tuesday. She scrambled to book tickets, find accommodations in Washington, D.C., and get permission to take time off from her internship.

The event was held in the East Wing of the White House, and Rodriguez got to sit with the other bloggers who had been selected to attend, as well as members of the press corps, the White House staff and the Tumblr staff. Karp asked President Obama questions that had been submitted on topics ranging from the president’s plan to make student loan debt more affordable to the issue of gun violence at schools. Rodriguez could easily been seen in the video that was taken of the event.

Rodriguez says she eventually plans to write more about her experience on her blog.

“I haven’t had a chance to catch my breath yet,” she said.

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