Emotional week for student who introduced president, had speech stolen
BATON ROUGE - It's been a roller coaster week for McKinley High School senior Che'dra Joseph.
On Tuesday, she found out she was going to introduce President Barack Obama when he visited her school for a town hall event in two days. On the big day, she stood before a thousand people and talked about issues important to her before handing the mic over to the commander-in-chief.
Then the next night, the copy of her speech - signed by Obama - was stolen from her car.
"I just started crying," she told News 2, "I was like, what if I don't get another one."
Joseph said she spent a lot of time making sure her speech was perfect, and it was a big hit, especially with Obama who called Joseph "a serious leader of the future."
However, on Friday night police said 17-year-old Keondrae Ricks and a juvenile broke into several vehicles outside a McKinley High basketball game, including Joseph's. Investigators said the thieves were smashing windows and grabbing valuables, which included her bookbag. Tucked into the bag was the signed copy of her speech, stuck in between the pages of a textbook.
Police said Ricks was arrested after school administrators recognized him on surveillance video. Police also found Joseph's speech as they were digging through a nearby dumpster looking for evidence. Joseph said they called her right after she'd had her smashed window replaced Saturday.
"I'm never going to be the same, I think this week has specifically put things in perspective for me," she said, looking back on her week. "Imagine a lump being on my shoulder, it's not there anymore... I know for a fact that I can do whatever it is I need to do now, to get where I'm trying to go."
As for where she's going next - college, for sure. Harvard is her first choice.