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I received a phone call from Dean Betsy Ziegler on Wednesday afternoon, asking for me to call her back as soon as possible. When I returned her call, Dean Ziegler said, “We have submitted your name and it was approved to say the Pledge of Allegiance before President Obama. Would you be willing to represent Kellogg and lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance?” 

I told her that I would be honored. 

President Barack Obama was going to speak to Kellogg students, and the nation, about the economy, and I was going to say the Pledge of Allegiance prior to his speech.

After hanging up the phone, the pressure of the situation I just agreed to set in! The Pledge of Allegiance is something we all know, so why all of a sudden did it seem like there were so many words to memorize?! 

I started rehearsing throughout the afternoon. After telling my family what I would be doing for the event, there was one common theme of advice: don’t mess it up. 

I arrived at the event on Thursday around 11 a.m. to be shown into Cahn Auditorium. About an hour later, I was shown backstage with Ethan Simpson, a graduate student at the Bienen School of Music, who would be singing the National Anthem. After a brief wait, the announcer said over the speakers, “Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and join Zach Frisbie in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.”

As soon as I walked on stage, I realized there must be an issue with the speakers because the audience clearly did not hear the message. Everyone was standing in small groups casually talking. I can only imagine people thinking, “Who is this guy on stage?” 

As I approached the podium, I asked everyone to please stand and join me in reciting the Pledge. All nerves vanished as the crowd joined me in honoring the flag. As a veteran of the United States Army, I was extremely proud to represent Kellogg. 

President Obama discussed many important topics in his speech, but there are two that really stuck out to me. The first is the importance of innovation and how that drives growth in the economy. As he talked about the emergence of the energy industry and reduced dependence on foreign oil, a majority of that growth is a result of entrepreneurs within the industry finding new solutions and allowing for us to secure our energy independence. We must continually look at new ways of doing things better, staying at the front of new and emerging technologies to be the market leader.

The second point came at the end of his speech. The President stated that as we continue our pursuit of profits in business, we do so with a sense of purpose and help to bring other Americans along with our success. We at Kellogg understand the importance of inspiring growth in others, collaborating with others and building teams to solve complex problems. 

It was a historic and memorable day to have an opportunity to listen to the President of the United States. Kellogg was the perfect setting for such an important speech on the future of business in America.

Zach Frisbie is a second-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year MBA Program. Prior to Kellogg, he graduated from the United States Military Academy and spent six years in the United States Army, leading soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He plans on entering a career in general management following graduation.