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Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward works with University of North Florida senior Henna Bakshi on her speech to introduce the journalist at his appearance Tuesday. Based on that conversation, Bakshi rewrote the introduction 20 minutes before...
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jan. 23, 201412:00 PM EST

UNF student gets assignment, pat on the back from Bob Woodward

by: Henna Bakshi

Editor's Note: Henna Bakshi is a University of North Florida senior who was selected to introduce Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward during his appearance at the university Tuesday.

When you first see Bob Woodward, you see an old man in a suit, silver hair, a simple walk with no grand entrance, offering gentle handshakes and carrying a rustic handsomeness good enough to be played by Robert Redford.

Meeting this gentleman was a dream come true. He is a legend in the journalism world. But when you tell him you're star-struck to see him, he replies by saying, "Don't be!" He is a humble man with great wisdom.

I was invited to the VIP reception before the lecture where I got to interact with Mr. Woodward. I was introduced as the student journalist who would introduce him on stage. Hearing that, he pulled out his iPhone and asked whether or not I will be mentioning former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' and President Obama's remarks about him. I wasn't.

"Oh, but you should! It'll be funny," Woodward said.

Peering at his iPhone screen, he showed me that Gates, who had also been CIA director, said in The New Yorker last week that he wished he could have recruited Woodward for the CIA. President Obama commented on Woodward's Watergate journalism as "telling truth to power." Clearly, Mr. Woodward wanted me redo my script and talk about this for his introduction.

Bob Woodward had given me an assignment.

I scrapped my old script and used this information to write a new one on my phone about 20 minutes before the show. I had a freshly printed copy and hand-scribbled notes before going on stage.

And it worked.

Mr. Woodward enjoyed the introduction, and so did the crowd. I felt as though I had done him, and UNF, proud. Mr. Woodward's speech, also handwritten notes on lined paper, was a string of stories with lessons of simple humanity in the end.

In a mere five minutes of speaking with Mr. Woodward, you feel as though you've known him for a while. There were no unnecessary formalities in our interaction; he was human.

If anything, Bob Woodward has fueled my fire. I am thankful of UNF for giving me yet another amazing opportunity. I am headed to CNN next week for an internship with newly found gusto and Mr. Woodward's pat on my back.

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