UNH Student James Hilaire Meets President Obama at White House

The Charger Bulletin

West Haven, Conn., July 15, 2009-While alternative medicine has been around for millennia, University of New Haven (UNH) senior James Hilaire says he may have discovered one of the newest, and most unusual, remedies of all-meeting and shaking hands with United States President Barack Obama. Hilaire is recovering from a season-ending injury he received while serving as UNH goal keeper in a men’s soccer game in September, 2008. ABC News learned of his arduous battle to recover from the accident, and invited him to the White House for the taping of “ABC News Primetime: Questions for the President – Prescription for America,” on Wednesday, June 24.

James Hilaire
James Hilaire

Hilaire was one of a number of individuals from throughout the country invited to the White House to speak with President Obama on the future of the nation’s healthcare system. Though he didn’t have the chance to ask the president his question-regarding the lack of affordable health insurance for college students no longer covered by their parents’ health insurance-he was able to meet Obama while standing in the receiving line following the show’s taping. Hilaire says the President shook his hand, smiled and gave him a wink. “That, to me, was the best cure of all,” Hilaire says. “To think that millions of people in the United States will never have the chance to meet President Obama-but I did-is wonderful. I will carry that moment with me for the rest of my life.”

Hilaire has been an inspiration to the entire UNH community during his recovery process, and was named UNH Male Athlete of the Year for 2008-2009. He notes that his doctors told him he would be unable to get out of a wheelchair for at least six months. “I started walking in two months,” he says, “Yes, I was limping, but I was walking!” he laughs.

A leader in experiential education, the University of New Haven is experiencing a historic and nationally recognized surge in enrollment. Founded in 1920, the University provides its students with a unique combination of solid liberal arts and real-world, hands-on professional training. UNH is a private university with an 80-acre main campus. The University has an enrollment of more than 5,200; approximately 1,700 graduate students and more than 3,500 undergraduates, 70 percent of whom reside in University housing. The University offers more than 80 undergraduate degrees and more than 25 graduate degrees through its five colleges, in fields such as sports management, nutrition, forensic science, music and sound recording, engineering, computer science and criminal justice. University College at UNH develops programs and courses to meet the emerging educational and training needs of educators, businesses and public and social agencies, focusing on academic excellence, convenience and flexibility. University of New Haven students study abroad through a variety of distinctive programs.