“Miss him yet?” That’s how former White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino, began her talk at York College of Pennsylvania this week. She was referring to her former boss, George W. Bush.
Since leaving her job at the White House, Perino has served as a media strategist, political commentator, and Fox News Contributor.
Perino’s impressive career served as a background for the personal advice that she gave the students.
“Don’t be afraid to move. To be ungracious is to be unwise. Find your strong voice. Read. Stay fit.” Those were just some of the tips she gave.
She aimed her advice especially at young women in the audience. As White House Press Secretary, Perino was only the second woman and first Republican woman to hold the position. Prior to holding that position she also served as the principal deputy press secretary.
The auditorium was packed and students said they benefited from her talk. “It was a great experience,” said York College junior, Kristen Evans. “As a Public Relations major, I feel that I can use the insight Mrs. Perino provided to help in my career.”
Junior Brooke Cortese said, “She made it known that sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know,” referencing the stories of how she met her husband – sitting next to him on a plane, and how she received one of her first political jobs – meeting someone at a hockey game.
Forgiveness, humor, hard work, and graciousness were the themes of her talk. She detailed some of her toughest moments, including when her former boss, Scott McClellan, released his very critical book on President Bush.
The crowd was very energetic and responsive as she encouraged young men and women to travel, citing her experience volunteering at a women’s HIV clinic in Africa. She told a story of becoming a manicurist for women in a hospice. “Women are the same all over,” she said.
Perino’s talk – “Tales from the Trenches” was hosted by the York College Center for Professional Excellence. Working in direct partnership with College departmental leaders, the CPE works to to assist students in building attitudes and skills that will enable them to be professionals and effective in their careers.
Being adventurous, taking your career into your own hands, reaching out to those around you, and not passing up opportunity–these are important skills to take into the professional world, she said.
Currently, she serves as president of Dana Perino and Company–a strategic communications firm she founded in 2009. Earlier in her career she was director of communications for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and a spokesperson at the Department of Justice after the 9/11 attacks. “Nothing I will ever do will be as hard as working in the White House,” she said.
Perino told students that personal character is the key to professional success. “Be gracious. Be humble. Be forgiving but be strong.”
Fix Contributor Judith Ayers is a student at York College of Pennsylvania.