When communication arts professor Kevin Jones learned that one of his students, freshman Samantha Biever (pictured left), would be in Washington, D.C. last March, his first thought was to send a text message – to the White House. And while the presidential iPhone wasn’t on the receiving end, he did manage to reach a few doors down.
Samantha Biever (left) and Joanna Rosholm
Knowing that Biever has an interest in politics and wants to work in public relations, Jones reached out to one of his former students from a past teaching job: Joanna Rosholm (right), press secretary for First Lady Michelle Obama.
When Jones told Biever about his plan to arrange a meeting between the two, she didn’t think there was much chance it would happen – until she received an email from Rosholm the following day. A few short weeks later, she found herself in the White House.
“The experience was incredible,” says Biever. “We had coffee and then we watched the Ellen DeGeneres Show together, because Michelle Obama was on. . . . We talked about internships, how important it is to get those in place, and she was impressed by the fact that I was thinking about that as a freshman.”
After a behind-the-scenes tour of the White House, Biever presented Rosholm with a letter from university president Robin Baker to the First Lady in addition to a George Fox pen. “It was a really nice pen,” she adds. And while Biever didn’t walk away with any souvenirs of her own, she did leave the nation’s capital with a valuable connection. She and Rosholm have since stayed in touch via email, and there’s been talk of a possible White House internship in the future.
Biever left the experience “inspired” to not only follow her career path of choice, but to give others a hand up when she reaches that position, just like Rosholm did for her. In short, says Biever, “It was awesome.”