President's cousin has to balance the budgets too

20th February 2009 at 00:00

He had to sell an $800 billion economic stimulus package to a sceptical US Congress. She has to teach teenagers about profit and loss.

But the first black president of the United States and Doreen Vicente, a lecturer in business studies at Newham Sixth Form College in east London, have something in common: they are cousins.

Mrs Vicente, a mother-of-three, said Barack Obama's election had made her hugely proud and was an inspiration.

"Nobody expected this," she said. "I felt very proud. It shows what someone can achieve. If you work hard, he believed, you could go to the highest office. It gives people hope that anything is possible.

"When you listened to his speeches, you could feel it that people wanted something different."

Her link to the world's most powerful person has impressed students at NewVIc, as the college is known locally. In fact, it brought about a complete change in the classroom.

"The students were really excited when they found out that someone close to them is related to someone in such a high position.

"I thought I would get more respect, but not so much," Mrs Vicente joked. "They're still the same!"

Unlike Mr Obama, Mrs Vicente, 39, was born in Kenya. But for both of them, education was the catalyst for a life away from Africa.

While the president's father went to the United States on a scholarship, Mrs Vicente came to the UK for her studies. She first undertook professional qualifications at a private college, before studying for a degree at Greenwich University's school of management. After she met her husband, Chris, they settled in London to have a family.

Mrs Vicente is still in contact with relatives in Kenya, through Sarah Obama, the president's 86-year-old grandmother, who attended his inauguration.

Mrs Vicente said: "She's taking it all in her stride. She still goes on with life as normal."

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