How A Barack Obama Hug Led to the Harlem Shake

It was an unexpected journey, from the George W. Bush Shake, the Barack Obama Hug to the Harlem Shake.

Appreciation from the President of the United States is one of the highest honors any American can receive. No, it wasn't me, but the best part is that it was one of our students.

I have been very fortunate in my own education having learned from two mentors awarded the National Medal of Science (Prof. Tobin J. Marks and Prof. Stephen J. Lippard.) Each received a hearty handshake from President George W. Bush. Perhaps some of my work in their labs helped get them there, along with a cast of hundreds.

But then there was the hug from President Barack Obama, a sign of appreciation to Manik Rathee for his design work on the BarackObama.com website. Manik graduated from our University, and he spoke on our campus last Friday at the Thinking Creatively Conference. He shared his journey responding to the clarion call by Teddy Goff, Digital Director, Obama For America: "We are being out-spent 4 to 1. If we don't make up the gap, we will lose this election." Perhaps some of my work helped get Manik there, along with a cast of hundreds. Manik's creativity contributed to a grassroots social media campaign leading to President Obama's reelection.

2013-04-21-potushug.jpg

This journey came full circle last Friday when I congratulated Manik for his hard work and creativity with a heart-felt handshake. When you're an educator, it's the best feeling in the world when you see one of your students fly to great heights. Thinking of handshakes, hugs and joy reminded me of the whimsical exuberance of the Harlem Shake. Since I am a U. Va. Alumnus, I feel compelled to share their own version, introduced by one of their Deans. I know how he feels. Watch this 30 second video; I guarantee you'll smile!

A version of this article was published at The Huffington Post.

More like this

Today's guest blogger is Idan Frumin, a student in the group of Prof. Noam Sobel in the Neurobiology Department.  Their research on the transmission of odor compounds while shaking hands appears today in eLife. It all started one day after lunch, sometime back in 2011. We sat in the lab’s living…
An impromptu collection of racist commentary or commentary about racism related to the Democratic Primary race. Racist Attacks on Obama Growing More Heated With the selection of Barack Obama as the first black Democratic nominee for president seeming more possible by the day, racists and white…
The office of the Vice President for Research at the Pennsylvania State University has released the conclusions of its inquiry into the "climategate" allegations against Prof. Michael Mann. After a cracker broke into the e-mail archives at the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University, a…
A lot of people will object to the title of this post. I will be told to take the post down. I will be told to modify the title or to change what I say in the post. Nope. Ta-Nehisi Coates is correct, and his presentation is brilliant. Watch the following interview (in two parts) and read his…