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Practice Essay: Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas, a trailblazer, had become an extremely dominant figure among the male press corps in the White House, particularly after spending a half a century in the White House briefing room. Mrs. Thomas, noted as the Dean of the Leading News Societies, covered every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama for United Press International, and later Hearst newspapers. As the unofficial as well as the undisputed chief of the U.S. Press Corps for ten presidents, copious headlines generated Helen Thomas's pioneering to highlight the lowering of barriers for women who came to excel in journalism.

President Obama on Saturday, July 20, 2013, exclaimed that "she never failed to keep presidents - myself included - on their toes." Mrs. Thomas, whose parents immigrated from what is not Lebanon to the U.S., nonetheless they, like their daughter, studied American and U.S. history. Her expertise helped her span two eras: World War II, when people mostly gained news from radios, newspaper and movie newsreels up to cable television and the Internet. When Mrs. Thomas as a woman wrote on war, crime, and politics, she worked her way into full-time reporting. By 1960, she became the first woman assigned to President Kennedy's complete-time news services.

In 1999, Mrs. Thomas announced how deeply she loved her work and instead how lucky she was to choose a profession in which "it's a joy to work everyday!"

When President Obama on August 4, 2009, took cupcakes to the White House briefing room, he had a twinkle in his eyes. He presented not just their celebration of her 89th birthday but his down 48th one.

Clearly, Mrs. Thomas and President Obama understood much about each other: Mrs. Thomas' patriotism, keen curiosity and good sense plus her constant drive, and President Obama's deep love of his country, his courtesy ratifying every signature line ending the press conference, "Thank you, Mr. President."

THE FINAL ESSAY FOR SAT READING

1. How many presidents did Helen Thomas cover, known for spending _________years in the White House briefing room, cover from John F. Kennedy on_____. 2. Mrs. Thomas was born: 3. Helen Thomas pioneered to help: Answers

ELISSA SOMMERFIELD is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with an MA in English from SMU. She taught English at SMU and in the Dallas County Community College District. For under 30 years, she has conducted classes in SAT and ACT preparation as well as in graduate school exam instruction and study skills. Additionally, she has tutored extensively in most academic areas, the ISEE, the composition of school entrance essays, and editing books. She has served as an SAT and educational consultant for 29 Texas school districts and has authored four books on SATs plus, with Frances Bailey Wood, co-authored and revised one on how to study efficiently. An educational consultant, as well as graduate school, college, and boarding school counselor, she is a member of Independent Educational Consultants Association and Texas Association for College Admissions Counselors. Sommerfield actively maintains her Certified Educational Planner designation and at UT was a Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year.

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