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Xavier Magazine | November 24, 2017

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Political Bug

Caroline Purtell

Erin McDermott caught the political fever on the 2004 presidential campaign trail while canvassing neighborhoods, attending rallies and phoning voters on behalf of the Bush/Cheney camp. And she still hasn’t recovered.

“In the last couple of weeks before the election, there’s an adrenaline rush that goes with it that makes it worth the long hours, the hard work,” McDermott says. “It was something I never experienced before, but it was definitely the hook into politics for me.”

Two years later she took a summer internship with former House Majority Leader John Boehner, another Xavier graduate, and then moved to Washington after graduating in 2007 and landed a position in the U.S. Department of Education where she worked for Undersecretary of Education Sara Martinez Tucker.

“I was her access person,” McDermott says. “It was my job as a policy analyst to advise her, brief her and prep her on what she would have to do around higher education accessibility.”

Although her term as a political appointee ended with the Bush presidency, McDermott quickly found a non-political job with the Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education where she now manages a portfolio of congressionally directed grants. She’s also pursuing dual master’s degrees in government and business at Johns Hopkins University. McDermott admits, however, that she’s ready for the next round of elections.

“Some jobs fit people’s styles and personalities better than others,” she says. “I guess I’m learning now that a political job is right up my alley.”

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