Dear Mr. President

Dear President Obama:

As you prepare to leave the White House, I wanted to send a brief note to share how your presidency has made a positive difference in my life, as well as to express my gratitude for the dignity you have brought to your office.

My story is surely far less dramatic than those of others who have benefited from your leadership. I am a young man from Wisconsin, who currently lives in Chicago and works for the Midwest Jesuits. While I was a student at Marquette University, I volunteered for your 2008 presidential campaign. In fact, an essay I wrote about how I would have advised you to reach young voters helped me obtain a scholarship to Marquette. #ThanksObama

Following my graduation, I moved to Peru to work as a teacher with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. As I’m sure you know, you are very popular abroad. Unfortunately, my two-year contract in Peru was cut short when I developed a heart condition called pericarditis. I returned to the United States under less-than-ideal circumstances, dealing with a medical condition and medications that continue to cause difficulties for me three and a half years later.

One thing that made this period of my life more manageable was the Affordable Care Act. While I had a lot to deal with as I tried to regain my health, I could at least rest knowing that I would be able to remain on my parents’ health insurance until I was 26. This was critical for me as I searched for a job, pieced my life back together, and slowly made progress in my career and life.

Like many, I have felt deeply disheartened by the recent election and its ongoing aftermath. Promises to undo much of your impressive and admirable legacy — from repealing the Affordable Care Act to reneging on the commitments made in the Paris Climate Agreement — are alarming and clearly to the detriment of so many people around the world. While I have been inspired by your ongoing optimism since the election, I also imagine you, too, have had moments of feeling dispirited.

Come what may in the next several years, I want you to know that your efforts helped me. And beyond the material benefits I gained from your time in office, I have been proud to call you my president.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said and you often quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” I intend to continue working for progress in our country and around the world, to do my part to help that arc bend in the right direction. I do so having gained much from your example.

With gratitude,
Brian Harper