Chicago Teen’s Journey to the White House

The national recognition that Anthony Halmon received for his invention is far from his only victory. 

Obama congratulates Anthony Halmon (left) and other students at White House Science Fair. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

AH: My freshman year, my father was in jail, so I used to go around with my cousins a lot and get involved with fighting, and things that weren’t really me, but I felt like it was the only way to live. I was living, not dreaming. Just existing. My grades were dropping.

In October 2010, my father passed away, and I felt like there was no purpose in life, but I had a realization. I had to sit down and talk to myself, and I talked to my pastor. He nurtured me and raised me like I was his own son. That was my transition. Ever since then, my grades started improving. I started saying, I can do better and I can be better, because in the end anything that happens is because of the choices I made.

TR: What was the highlight of participating in the White House Science Fair?

AH: When they first told me, I didn’t believe it, because I never pictured myself actually being at the White House. It was just amazing because I realized there are more people like me out there, people my age and even younger.

TR: Did President Obama say anything that stood out to you today?

AH: He just said hello, and we shook hands, but the eloquence of his speech that he spoke today — I’m pretty sure it reached everybody in that room. He was saying we’re basically the chosen generation that will help shape the future with our ideas … and maybe we can use science to help create the change we want to see.