The first call came early on Saturday. She wasn’t there to pick it up.
Then later, another came. This one she answered.
“I’m giving you this number. You need to call them.”
It was her boss.
“OK, well I’m driving through the mountains, and I don’t know what my cell service is going to be like, but I’ll try my best.”
Nothing was definite until the morning of. She spent the weekend writing and stressing. But it was the day. She was lined up at the starting line of a race just waiting for the gun to go off.
It was finally time.
She stepped up on stage and stood in front of the podium. A crowd of over 16,000 people stared back at her.
“It is both my pleasure and my honor to introduce to you the 44th president of the United States,” she said.
Barack Obama stepped up on the stage and embraced her.
“Can everybody please give Isabel a big round of applause for the wonderful introduction.” Obama said.
She was star-struck.
Sometimes for Isabel Caron Trumbull, magic just happens.
Trumbull, a 19-year-old sophomore public policy and global studies double major, always works to make the make the magic happen. From serving as a chairperson for Students Organize for Syria, to volunteering for the North Carolina Coordinated Campaign and registering people to vote, to interning with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Trumbull helps other people live the same life she had growing up.
Trumbull, a native from Chicago, grew up four blocks east of Wrigley Field in an apartment building that her father lived in for over 25 years. She attended Lane Tech College Prep High School, the largest high school in Chicago, where she served on the school council, ran cross country, played soccer, served as editor-in-chief for her school newspaper and took nine AP classes throughout her high school career.
“Think of the most obscure combination of ethnic cultural backgrounds, racial diversity, socioeconomic standing, area of the city that you’re from and Lane Tech has five people that fit that category,” she said.
Even as a child, Trumbull set high goals for herself. In the first grade, when asked, Trumbull said she wanted to be the first female president.
“I told a pediatrician until I was like 12 years old that I was going to be the first female president, so when Hillary was running the first time I was like ‘Yeah I guess she could be the first female president, but I’ll be like the first female president from Chicago because she grew up in the suburbs,’’ Trumbull said. “I was a little heartbroken that I didn’t get to see out first female president this time around, but I did get a text from my sister the next day that was like ‘Hey look Isabel, there’s still a chance for you!’”
Though they weren’t able to see the first female president, the Trumbull family are no strangers to witnessing history. Trumbull’s father and her older sister Mackenzie obtained two tickets to Obama’s 2008 election night address, and decided to attend without Trumbull. Trumbull said she was jealous until her father later took her on a trip to Washington, where she got to visit Congress the day President Obama’s health care law passed.
“One of my dad’s really good friends from grad school is deaf and the deaf community is really close… one of (then-Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi’s top aides was also deaf, so we were able to get tickets into the capital building,” Trumbull said. “I was just hanging out on Nancy Pelosi’s private balcony when the vote for ‘Obamacare’ passed.”
Trumbull is currently working toward her goal of graduating, and possibly attending law school. As part of her global studies major, she studies several languages, including French and Arabic, and also plays wing and ten (the equivalent of a quarterback) for the UNC-Chapel Hill women’s rugby team. Even though the election concluded, Trumbull also still campaigns for Democratic candidates both in-state and nationally. Trumbull said she campaigned for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because she fought the people and issues that have personally touched Trumbull.
“The weekend before I gave my speech, someone that I ran cross country with was needlessly shot and killed due to unnecessary gun violence—it was a robbery gone wrong. With a weapon he should not have had because it was purchased illegally,” Trumbull said. “Growing up in downtown Chicago, you can’t escape hearing about children being shot needlessly. (Clinton) supported comprehensive background checks which makes sense to me.”
Despite all her best efforts sometimes the magic doesn’t happen for Trumbull, and no day was that more true than election night. Trumbull said she became emotional several times throughout the night.
“As the night went on it just had its ups and its downs, but it just got really painful. I definitely cried multiple times.” she said. “One of my best friends from high schools is trans(gender) and does not feel comfortable coming to visit me at college because of HB2 let alone like what the world would be like if LGBTQ rights were demolished. That would suck so I’ve definitely cried for them. One of my best friends in high school, is an undocumented student. And I cried for her.”
But despite the result of the election, Trumbull, as Obama put it on that magic November day, decided to “chose hope.”
“I think at the end of the day our future is what we make of it,” Trumbull said. “We still have a say in what happens. Just because someone is elected president or governor or senator or congressman or woman doesn’t change who are as people.”
By Ari Sen
Sophomore Public Policy and Global Studies major Isabel Caron Trumbull embraces President Barack Obama at a rally held at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Hooker Fields on November 2, 2016. Trumbull introduced Obama at the rally, which was held for the president to campaign for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo by Ari Sen.