8th-Grader's Letter Inspired Obama Speech

South Carolina teen becomes face of stimulus with plea for education funding
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2009 4:20 AM CST
Michelle Obama and Ty'Sheona Bethea, second from left, applaud during President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress yesterday.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – South Carolina eighth-grader Ty'Sheoma Bethea became the symbol of the stimulus package in President Obama's speech to Congress last night, WSAV reports. The president has repeatedly referred to Bethea's dilapidated school in his calls for spending on education infrastructure, and during his speech he quoted from a letter the 14-year-old wrote to Congress urging lawmakers not to neglect education.

"We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself, and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina, but also the world," the president read from Bethea's letter as she looked on, standing next to Michelle Obama. "We are not quitters." (Read more South Carolina stories.)

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