Are celebrities really as important as we make them out to be? For Victoria Rodgers, meeting the president of Hungary was all she wanted to do that brisk September morning.
The information was sent in an email on September 20, informing Benedictine College students that the president of Hungary, Katalin Novàk, would be visiting the college on September 26.
“I was excited when I learned that people could meet her,” Rodgers said. “So I dressed nicely [on the day of her arrival] because I was anticipating the plausibility of meeting her.”
In the sunny autumn-morning air, sporting a brown and white dress and faded jean jacket, Rodgers joined the sea of expectant students in the Quad and watched eagerly as the president stepped from her vehicle.
Rodgers was determined to personally meet the president, and seeing the security officers directing and regulating the substantial crowd that had gathered there, she knew it was going to be difficult to carry out her plan.
“This was my mentality: If I’m going to meet her, I can’t be with a crowd because security is no-nonsense with crowds,” Rodgers said. “So I have to be independent – super non-threatening.”
The snapping of cameras and bustle of security officers keeping people behind fine lines faded as Rodgers made her way to the lookout near St. Benedict’s Abbey. The president’s route would eventually take her here, and Rodgers was confident that the lookout would provide a space for her to take her chance.
“I think I just saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Rodgers said. “And when I am determined about something, I am determined.”
After five minutes of anxious anticipation, Rodgers watched as a camera crew rattled up to the lookout in a golf cart. President Minnis and President Novàk followed close behind.
Rodgers stood at the edge of the pavilion, watching intently as President Minnis showed the Hungarian president the lookout and briefly explained the history of the Benedictine monks.
“They were close enough so that they were talking distance from me,” Rodgers said. “There was a lull in the conversation, and I thought to myself, Now is my chance. I have to meet the president of Hungary.”
Rodgers called out to President Minnis, who allowed the exhilarated college student to shake the president’s hand.
Rodgers stepped in front of the woman in the fuchsia dress, and beaming, introduced herself.
“I shook her hand and just thought, Oh my gosh, it’s happening! I’m shaking the hand of the president of Hungary, and this is all that I wanted to do today!” Rodgers said.
Rodgers thanked Novàk for her work with the pro-life movement and family life, following closely as they began walking away from the lookout.
As the cameramen surrounded them on all sides, snapping pictures and taking videos, Rodgers said that she had never had such an amazing experience.
“I just thought, smile big, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever done, and still be professional because she’s a human,” Rodgers said.
Reflecting on her experience, Rodgers began to realize just how important it was to understand the humanity element of her encounter with the president.
“I was so determined and freaked out about it,” Rodgers said. “And yet, every day I attend Mass. Why don’t I have the same vigor to see the Lord in the Mass? We make all this big fuss about a famous person, but they’re just a person. And God is God.”