Obama Gives Shout-Out to Los Altos Student

The President mentions a Los Altos student who has overcome significant medical challenges to pursue his dreams

Tuesday, Sep 8, 2009  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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Obama Gives Shout-Out to Los Altos Student

Paul Sakuma

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A Northern California teenager who was mentioned in President Barack Obama's education speech said Tuesday the experience has been "pretty cool."

Andoni Schultz, 18, of Los Altos, has been battling brain cancer for 15 years but still graduated with his high school class in June and is attending college.

Obama used his experience as an example of how students can overcome challenges.

"He's had to endure all sorts of treatments and surgeries ...," Obama said about Schultz in a national address Tuesday to students at a high school in Arlington, Va. "But he never fell behind."

Schultz said surgery to remove tumors from his brain have affected his memory, taking him longer to complete homework assignments and tests. He's also had to miss school for treatment and follow-up visits.

"I've always tried my best and keep up with my work," he said. "Even in the hospital ..., I would always check the school Web site to make sure I could stay up with all the homework."

Since a transcript of Obama's speech was released Monday, Schultz said he has been sought by the media and visited by proud friends.

"It's an absolute honor," said Angie Inchauspe, Schultz's mother. "As his mom, I for years have thought he's just an amazing kid ... To have him recognized by the U.S. president and for the whole nation to see that is just amazing."

Because her son has trouble remembering, Inchauspe said he needs to repeat exercises. So he does more problems than the teacher assigns.

"It gets stressful, it gets overwhelming," she said. "It would be pretty easy for him to give up. Through the support of people around him, he's able to overcome it and keep pushing forward."

Schultz is enrolled at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, where he wants to pursue a business degree en route to becoming an accountant.

Obama's speech was not without controversy, as conservative organizations and some concerned parents warned the president was trying to sell his political agenda. That concern stemmed in part from an accompanying administration lesson plan encouraging students to "help the president." The White House later revised that plan.

Inchauspe said she and her son, who support the president, found the controversy funny, as did her husband, who is a Republican.

"The political part got caught up in it all," she said. "He's trying to inspire kids and encourage them."

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