Senior political science and journalism major Ameshia Cross received an unexpected but extraordinary gift the week before Christmas: an offer to work in the White House.
Cross, a Chicago native, admits her lofty political aspirations started at an early age, but she never anticipated having them realized so soon. In fact, she planned to continue her education in the fall at the University of Chicago Law School, where she was recently accepted. All that changed when David Axelrod, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama and chief strategist for his campaign, called in December to offer Cross a job working in the West Wing as an assistant to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
“At first I didn’t believe it was him,” Cross said with a laugh. “I hadn’t applied for a position at the White House or with the new administration so the call was completely unexpected.”
An Engaged Scholar who is involved in numerous organizations across campus, Cross caught the attention of Axelrod and others through her experience to date. She first interned for Barack Obama when he ran for Senate in 2004, and she was chosen as one of 35 university fellows to travel the country campaigning for Obama last summer. As president of Belmont’s College Democrats, Cross met briefly with Obama during his campus visit for the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate. The new president and his road to the White House are also the subject of Cross’ senior thesis.
Deferring her enrollment to law school for now, Cross will begin her job on May 17, the day after her graduation from Belmont, by meeting with her new colleagues in the West Wing. Her position will include scheduling interviews, writing press releases and contributing to speeches, among other responsibilities. Last week, Cross was able to meet with her new boss, Robert Gibbs, during a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the inauguration. She received a third-row ticket to the inauguration as well as a ticket to both the Home States Inaugural Ball and the Youth Ball.
“I’m so thankful to have worked for and supported our new president,” Cross said. “I was thrilled to be a part of such a historic day. No matter where you were in the crowd, the inauguration was an amazing experience.”
Cross added that she credits her education at Belmont and the professors who pushed her academically with the professional benefits she’s now reaping. “I remember getting materials from Belmont after I was first admitted with the ‘From Here to Anywhere’ statement and just thinking it was kind of outlandish. Now I know, though, that if you work hard and strive to do your best, Belmont really does open amazing doors for you to walk through.”