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Kent State Student Leader Participates in Presidential Forum

Posted March 7, 2011

It's not every day that a Kent State University student gets to shake hands with the President of the United States. For senior Justin Pierce, that day was Tuesday, Feb. 22.

lead #3 Justin Pierce Obama
Justin Pierce (right, with gold tie) asks President Obama
(back to camera) a question during the forum.

Pierce participated in President Barack Obama's Winning the Future Forum on Small Business at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland. He was one of only a few students on a youth panel.

"It was truly an honor to represent Kent State University, and I strive to do it well at every opportunity," Pierce says.

President Obama didn't have time to make it to every session, but he did stop to meet the students participating in the forum.

"At first it was absolutely overwhelming and awe inspiring, but he was actually very comfortable to be around and easy to listen and talk to," Pierce says.

Pierce is a finance major and the executive director of the Undergraduate Student Government at Kent State. In September, he introduced Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton at his fourth annual State of the University address.

Lefton was also invited to the forum and was part of a workforce discussion.

President Obama highlighted the idea of businesses and universities working together on workforce development programs during his closing remarks at the forum. He said that collaboration results in businesses knowing they are hiring skilled workers, and students knowing they are qualified for jobs after graduation.

He also acknowledged Kent Displays, an electronic manufacturing company in Kent, for joining forces with Kent State.

The company is a spinoff from the Kent State's Liquid Crystal Institute®and was created as a joint venture between Kent State and Manning Ventures. It uses liquid crystal technology in its flexible displays. The Boogie Board writing tablet, one of the company's noteworthy products, uses technology from Kent State.

Chemistry Professor John L. West says he was proud to be part of the Liquid Crystal Institute®, where he served as director, and part of Kent State when he heard President Obama's remarks.

"It is a clear indication of the preeminence of the Liquid Crystal Institute®in this key area of research and technology," West says. "More importantly, it shows our success at translating laboratory results into real world applications that create new jobs and wealth in Ohio."

By Carrie Drummond