Dinner with the Veep

UND’s Nate Schroeder personally invited to Vice President Joe Biden’s residence to be honored for combatting sexual assault and other violence

Joe Biden and Nate Schroeder

UND biology student Nate Schroeder recently whisked himself to Washington, D.C., acting upon a personal invitation to have dinner with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden. Schroeder was one of a select handful of people to be honored by the Vice President for standing up against sexual assault and other violence. Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Vice President of the United States.

UND biology student Nate Schroeder was a typical college student sitting in a Grand Forks classroom one day, and a guest at the dinner table of Vice President Joe Biden the next.

Schroeder, a Bismarck native, recently was one of a select handful from across the nation to receive a special invitation from the vice president and his wife, Jill Biden, to have dinner with them at their residence in the nation’s capital.  The dinner date was set to take place just days from when he got the invite, and there wasn’t much time to think.

He jumped at the opportunity and entered a whirlwind experience that took him from Grand Forks to Washington, D.C., and back again.

Schroeder, 24, and the other guests are finalists for the national “It’s On Us Courage Award,” recognizing individuals who have taken action as bystanders to prevent sexual assault.

Schroeder said that part of the evening, which took place last month, included a photo op with Biden, where the Veep shared the stage with each honoree and read prepared notes about them. Schroeder said Biden even put his arm around him, and referenced the fact that Schroeder hails from the same home state as Biden’s favorite NFL quarterback: Philadelphia Eagles rookie signal caller and North Dakota State University alum Carson Wentz, also from Bismarck. Biden is a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Schroeder said the vice president didn’t, however, reference the rivalry that exists between UND and Wentz’s former school.

Green Dot hero

Schroeder said that parts of the evening, to include the vice president’s remarks about each honoree, are slated to air on national television in the near future.

“I had an amazing time,” Schroeder said. “I think it really hit me when I looked down at his notes and saw my name on it next to the words “University of North Dakota. That was a ‘it’s really happening’ kind of moment for me.”

Schroeder, who is a senior at UND, said he found out that he was a finalist for the Courage Award about a week before he dined with the vice president. That also was when he learned about the invitation to the Bidens’ residence.

Schroeder was nominated for the award by Amber Flynn, UND’s coordinator of sexual respect and violence prevention. Flynn has been instrumental in UND’s Green Dot bystander training program, which teaches and mentors individuals across campus about how they can make a difference by actively standing up to incidents of sexual assault and other forms of violence when they occur. The idea is described in the form of a map that might be filled with red dots — places where sexual assault and other violence may have occurred. The Green Dot program, with the help of its bystanders, aims to wash away those red dots with a wave of positive actions that prevent such violence and replaces them with green dots.

“Nate was one of the first students to go through the first Green Dot bystander training in 2015,” Flynn said. “In fact, he received multiple nominations from his peers to be a Green Dot bystander. Nate has been a constant advocate of Green Dot and creating change on campus and in the community.”

Thanks to his Green Dot training, Schroeder says he was able to step in on a situation at local bar. His actions potentially prevented a sexual assault from happening.

“Ultimately, he doesn’t know what would have happened — no one does,” Flynn said. “But he knew the situation was getting out of hand and the person needed someone. That person was Nate.”