- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - A Rutgers University student’s grandmother who helped the university nab President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker said she hasn’t stopped smiling about that special day.

Dianne Totten told NJ.com (https://bit.ly/24XA097 ) she sent three messages to the White House, urging Obama to speak at Rutgers’ graduation last Sunday.

“It was really very short, very direct,” Totten said of her notes. “I felt that it really can’t hurt to try.”

Totten, a 70-year-old Highlands resident, is the grandmother of outgoing Rutgers student government president Matthew Panconi, who also spoke at the event. She noted her grandson’s role at Rutgers and wrote that it’s one of the oldest universities in the country and its graduates should hear the president tell them what America’s about.

Obama, a Democrat, said during the ceremony it was smart for Totten to send the messages because he has a “soft spot for grandmas.”

“I even got three notes from the grandmother of your student body president,” Obama said during his commencement speech. “I have to say that really sealed the deal.”

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This story has been corrected to show it was the student body president’s grandmother, not the student body president, who helped get Obama.

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Information from: NJ Advance Media.


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