Sixteen-year-old Nicole Uzlaner from Beersheba was on a day trip with her classmates last week when she received a phone call from the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. On the line was one of the producers of the event held at the residence on Wednesday in honor of the arrival of US President Barack Obama.

“She said she got my number from my school and she asked me if I was interested in coming and saying a few words to Obama,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “I told her of course I’m interested! I was in shock.”

Click here for full JPost coverage of Obama's visit to Israel

At the event Uzlaner, along with four other young people, introduced herself to the American president in flawless English and told him about her school, the AMIT High School in Beersheba, which operates an advanced science program.

As part of the science courses she takes, she is also enrolled in a program at the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center, hosted by Ben-Gurion University, which offers a range of excellence programs for teen pupils interested in physics.

In front of Obama, Uzlaner was asked to emphasize the scientific relationship between the US and Israel in a few words, which she prepared for intensively in the few days she was given.

“The stress of before was the strongest. It is a huge event, and rehearsal really felt like a movie set,” she told the Post.

“The second I saw him I thought to myself, it’s the first time he is not on a screen and all I could think about is make sure I don’t mess up the words and he understands what I say,” she added. “But he is so smiley in person, I wasn’t as stressed [when] I was speaking.”

Although her moment to shine went by quite fast – 18 seconds, according to her girlfriends’ count – Uzlaner said she was happy to have had the chance to address the president and speak about a subject she believes is central to the relationship between Israel and the United States.

“I think we must advance our link in science. Not just for the countries, but for the people,” she explained. “When I left the event and went downstairs I passed a picture that Rona Ramon gave Peres and it had Ilan Ramon on it with the American team [of astronauts from the ill-fated Columbia space shuttle] there. I think this shows an important cooperation in the physics field.”

Uzlaner’s father, Pavel, accompanied his daughter to the event and said he was “very proud” of her.

“I think it’s the peak of a father’s career to see your daughter do something like that,” he said.

He explained that since his daughter was a child he and his wife had pushed her to learn science and English through private tutors.

“She is a very bright and intelligent young woman, and I think that we’ve seen the results of our investment,” he added.

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