A Magical Question to Hillary Clinton at CGIU

Lately I have been caring less and less about what people think and encouraging others to do the same.

So that’s the short story of why I pressured my friend, Vrinda Agarwal, into going on stage in front of 5,000 people at the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in Phoenix, Arizona… and spontaneously asking Hillary Clinton if she is running for president in 2016!


The group before the conference. Photo credit to Tiffany Tran (@tiffanystran).

First, a little bit of back story.

I am part of starting a campus group, 100 Strong, that is working on developing social entrepreneurship in underprivileged female high school students in the Bay Area. We applied to the Clinton Global Initiative Universities Conference, a conference where university leaders from all over the world come together to discuss their different commitments to action to making the world a better place.

One of the coolest parts of the conference is that a ton of famous people attend!

For example, the last formal plenary session of the day was Jimmy Kimmel interviewing the Clinton family.

I arrived 30 minutes early with my teammates, Ruhi and Vrinda, to snag a seat in the first row of the auditorium.

Fortunately (well, actually, not so fortunately), our friend Tiffany broke her arm snowboarding (see, I told you it was actually not-so-fortunate). But, because of her broken arm, she was let into the lobby earlier than the vicious crowds of people elbowing their way to be first in line for the door. She saved Vrinda, Ruhi, and me three seats at the front of the room by laying her body and broken arm across the seats until we arrived! HER BROKEN ARM! THIS IS TRUE FRIENDSHIP, PEOPLE! 

Anyways, as the fantastic interview with the Clinton’s wrapped up, Kimmel mentioned that there were some prepared questions from the audience.

Immediately I knew that someone needed to ask Hillary if she was running for President in 2014. I am a HUGE supporter of having a female president of the USA because of the positive effect this would have for women around the world.

Vrinda, Rajika, and I with Bill Clinton this morning after painting murals to beautify a park in Phoenix

Vrinda, Rajika, and I with Bill Clinton this morning after painting murals to beautify a park in Phoenix

Anyways, Vrinda mentioned before that she asked Hillary if she was running for president in passing at CGIU during the opening event and Hillary gently brushed off the question.

I told Vrinda, “You should ask Hillary your question.”

She questioned, “Are you sure? I think the questions are assigned ahead of time.”

“Yes! You need to ask that question!”

She tentatively went up to the secret service officer… who told her she could have the next question!

I could see Vrinda waiting in line as the two questions ahead of her wrapped up, trying to think up what she would say to the Clintons in front of a crowd of 5,000 people (on second thought, I think it was more like 1,000 people but it felt like 5,000). I felt nervous and excited for her and couldn’t wait for what she would say.

Finally, it was Vrinda’s turn to speak.

She confidently walked up to the microphone and talked about a Saudi Arabian woman, Manal, who is constantly asked by other women in Saudi Arabia to run for office and the gender inequality still in the United States that was mentioned earlier in the conference by the Clintons.

Vrinda then asked, “Mrs. Clinton, if you don’t represent women in politics in America as future president, who will?” 


Vrinda’s question was AMAZING! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I was so proud!

5,000 people gave her a standing ovation!

The result of her question? Hillary stumbled around it a bit and then told Vrinda that she was thinking through many different decisions and wants to have grandchildren. This was a bit awkward for Chelsea and disappointing for the audience.

This moment has been briefly cited by the Wall Street Journal and mentioned by the Washington Post!

I am so excited for Vrinda (she gave Hillary her business card and Hillary accepted it with a wink! Maybe Vrinda will help manage the campaign?!).

CGIU was magical and I will never forget Vrinda’s question to Hillary Clinton.


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