A Summer to Remember
Tamzin B. Smith Portrait Photography
From hugging the First Lady, to drafting policy memos, to sitting around a TV with White House staff watching President Barack Obama react to historic Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and health care, Washington College junior Taylor Frey had a front row seat to history this past summer. Frey interned in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs, which oversees the cabinet secretary and deputy secretary, as well as intergovernmental programs such as the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 4:30 p.m., in The Egg, Hodson Hall, he will tell all about it in a program titled “What I Learned in the White House,” cosponsored by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, where Frey is a student associate, and the WC Career Center. The presentation is free and open to the public. Students are invited to stay afterward for an informal conversation over dinner about applying for White House internships.
Frey says he applied six months early for the extremely competitive White House internship and was thrilled and amazed when he was accepted. “I grew up with this president,” says Frey, who was in middle school when Obama was first elected. “I’ve watched him truly represent the interests of my generation and of America as a whole and I’m really thankful for all the work he and Vice President Biden have done from everything on marriage equality and civil rights to economic fairness for the middle class and I wanted to be part of that. When I first applied I didn’t think I had a chance. But I was lucky enough to get an interview and lucky enough to get placed in the Office of Cabinet Affairs.”
Frey said it was awe-inspiring just to step through the doors of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the West Wing of the White House, which houses most of the White House staff. “It was more than a bit-nerve wracking, walking in the first time, and every time I crossed that threshold I just felt blessed to be working for the people I was working for,” he says.
A political science and American studies major, Frey became passionate about public service when he was in high school in Trumansburg, a small village just outside of Ithaca, NY, and started volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and then for a progressive young community activist and county legislator named Nate Shinagawa, who was running for U.S. Congress.
Frey was student body president at his high school and served as a cadet commander at the local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, and clocked more than 200 hours working on Shinagawa’s congressional race.
Last spring Frey was elected Washington College Student Government Association President and says he is newly inspired, as he serves out his yearlong term, by what he learned in the White House. “There is a lot of cynicism about politics among my generation, but I learned that there are true advocates for us there. Every single person I met is working long hours and using every second of every day to push the country in the right direction and to help each one of their constituents,” he says. “It made me want to work just as hard to serve my own community, and to help as many people as I can along the way.”