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Area woman meets president

"I was never worried or concerned or anything," she said. "I had been to that building a couple days before and saw there was a lot of issues just with the grounds, it's just sort of scraggly."

Most of the work the college did before Obama's arrival consisted of planned projects that were simply moved forward. On the whole, Seward's staff made cosmetic improvements like planting mums, sweeping the parking lots and touching up paint. A lot of the heavy work involved satisfying the Secret Service's safety concerns within the automotive lab.

Workers put paper over any windows Obama would walk in front of. The lab itself was emptied of welding equipment, heavy machinery and oil containers. And Secret Service agents pored over details of the building itself, including the fire and mechanical systems.

"It was amazing, the extents they go to, to protect the leader of the free world," Seward said.

With so little time between the announcement and the actual speech, Seward found herself working long hours over the weekend, eventually calling her husband to bring a change of clothes from home so she could grab a few hours of sleep at the college before starting her day on Monday.

She was still back at HVCC on Monday night to teach one of her courses as an adjunct professor, though.

The content of Obama's speech"delivered to a crowd of roughly 300 dignitaries, campus staff and lucky students"wasn't surprising to anyone. He touched on the administration's economic recovery efforts, touted the importance of green jobs and lauded educational opportunities available at community colleges like Hudson Valley.

Before nation's leader took the stage, through, Seward and four other HVCC officials got their reward for working long hours in the previous days in the form of a photo opportunity with the president, captured by the White House photographer.

"My dream had always been in my life to see a sitting president. I always thought that I'd be like 500 feet away and I'd see him get out of a car," Seward said. "I never through I'd shake the hand of a president."

She'll be receiving the picture in two months. Seward lives in Delmar with her husband, Tim, and 10-year-old son Charlie, who had his picture taken behind the presidential podium on Sunday evening.

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