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A Photo Op with President Obama Humorously Memorializes Nora Becker '07's "Quitting" Moment

President Barack Obama reacts humorously to a conversation with Nora Becker '07.

President Barack Obama reacts humorously to a conversation with Nora Becker '07.

It’s never easy to tell your boss that you’re quitting your job and moving on to a new opportunity. For Nora Becker ’07, she has that moment captured forever in a photograph…with the current President of the United States.

In an image captured by Becker’s boss Peter Souza during the White House staff picnic in June, President Barack Obama teases Becker when she gives him the news that she’s leaving her job as executive assistant in the White House photo office to attend the University of Pennsylvania for a joint MD/Ph.D. program.

Becker has supported President Obama through internships and campaign work since his senate race in 2003. Hailing from his same Chicago neighborhood, Becker volunteered for the senate campaign during her school breaks from Pomona. She also completed Claremont McKenna’s Washington Program, during which she interned full time in Obama’s senate office.

After graduation, Becker worked for 18 months on the Presidential campaign and was hired this past February for the photo office job. Becker’s plans always included a return to graduate school to become a medical doctor. “I’m hoping to both be able to practice clinically as a doctor and also do research on health-care policy issues from the academic side, in the areas of health-care reform and health disparities,” says Becker.

At the White House staff picnic in June, President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle Obama, met and shook hands with staff members, many of whom rarely interact with the President. And while Becker has met Obama several times over the years, she’s never worked with him closely.

“When it was my turn to shake the President’s hand, my boss told me to tell him what I was doing next,” Becker recalls of the photographed moment. “I said, ‘I’m starting the MD/Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania.’ And the President raised his hands up and went ‘Ooooooooh!’ sarcastically. And that’s the moment Pete captured in the photo. And then, of course, right after that, he said very sincerely, ‘Congratulations.’ And I said thank you.

“I feel really lucky that I get to keep that photo for the rest of my life,” says Becker, who begins her new studies in August. “I just got really lucky that it turned out to be such a great photo and the President’s facial expression is so funny.”