11th-grader earns trip to inauguration in D.C.

Livingston High student will attend inauguration and black-tie gala.

12/08/2008 11:56 PM

12/08/2008 11:58 PM

LIVINGSTON -- Haidar Ali Anwar, a 16-year-old Livingston High School junior, doesn't yet have his driver's license -- but he does have the hottest ticket in town.

It's the hottest ticket in many towns around the world, in fact.

Haidar has been invited to attend the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

At the inauguration, he will introduce one of the guests at a black-tie gala ball. Lance Armstrong and John and Elizabeth Edwards are among the honored guests.

"When I was chosen, I was thrilled. I couldn't believe it," Haidar said.

Some people weren't so shocked.

"He's a remarkable student," Livingston High School principal Ralph Calderon said. "It's not a surprise to me at all."

Haidar won the inauguration trip as a participant in the 2008 National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine. The forums take place across the country and expose exceptional high school students to leaders in their future careers.

Program organizers at the forums observed students and selected a lucky few to travel to the inauguration.

"When I came back, I was wondering nonstop if I had been accepted," Haidar said. "I was nervous, but then I got the invitation."

He only had to wait two days.

Haidar is excited about going to the inauguration, but he gets nervous about speaking publicly from time to time.

Haidar is so nervous about public speaking that, when given the opportunity to choose a favorite among all of his medals and awards, he chooses a second-place speech trophy.

"I usually get nervous in front of big crowds," he said. "I never expected myself to win or place in a speech contest."

After his stressful speech in D.C., Haidar will get a chance to relax.

His inauguration adventure comes with a bonus prize -- he was also chosen by the folks at the National Youth Leadership Forum to embark on a 19-day European jaunt through England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

On the agenda is a stopover to meet the prime minister and the queen of England.

Travel arrangement notes by several family members have been scribbled on the back of the inaugural invitation envelope sitting on Haidar's bedroom desk.

Haidar hopes getting that "big envelope" foreshadows the other big envelope he wants: an acceptance packet to UCLA.

Though he is still a junior in high school, Haidar is gearing up for college by taking Advanced Placement and Merced College courses. He is steadfast in his determination to attend UCLA, despite his father's attempts to keep him close.

Haidar wants to go to UCLA because it carries a surplus of courses in medicine, his hopeful major, and film production, his minor.

Despite all he has already experienced in life, the greatest day will be the one on which he can call himself a doctor, Haidar said.

His initial interest in medicine came as a surprise to his father, Chaudhry Anwar.

Haidar cried and cried after receiving a shot as a child at the medical center, Chaudhry recalled. On the way out to the parking lot, Haidar declared he would become a doctor.

His parents laughed and asked why:

"Because I want to be giving the injection!"

Reporter Danielle Gaines can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dgaines@mercedsun-star.com.

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