In a story published Monday in USA TODAY, Metz expressed her gratitude toward the former president.
Former prisoners are going back to work and school with the help of both Democrats and Republicans.
“You don’t know what you did for me,” she imagined herself telling him. “I’m finally coming into my own. I made the honor roll.”
This week, Obama wrote her a letter, wishing Metz all the best.
“I am so proud of you, and am confident that your example will have a positive impact for others who are looking for a second chance,” Obama wrote to Metz. “Tell your children I say hello, and know that I’m rooting for all of you.”
Metz was arrested in 1993 for drug offenses related to her husband’s cocaine trafficking ring. At 26, she was sentenced to three life sentences plus another 20 years.
In federal prison, Metz earned her GED. She began writing letters and making appeals for her freedom. In 2016, Obama commuted her sentence, and Metz enrolled in Southern University in New Orleans the following year. At 50 years old, she was a college freshman.
In her second semester at Southern, she earned a 3.75 grade point average and made the dean’s list.
In a heartwarming twist, Obama came across the USA TODAY story and sent a personal note to the woman whose life he dramatically changed.
The story about Danielle Metz was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.