From Daily Texan Columnist to White House Staffer, The Life of an Outstanding Young Texas Ex

As an 18-year-old entering The University of Texas, Veronica Vargas Stidvent had little notion she was beginning a journey that would lead to the hallowed halls of the White House.

What starts here changes the world—it’s certainly true in her case.

Stidvent first sampled political life with an internship in then-Gov. Ann Richards’ office. With the state Capitol just down from the campus, it was an opportunity she might never have gotten in her hometown of El Paso.

“It was just one of those amazing opportunities that happen when you come to The University of Texas,” she says.

She later landed a job as a Daily Texan columnist. In time, staffers in the office of Gov. George W. Bush began to notice her writing and including her clips in the stack for the boss to read.

They so impressed the governor that he invited the young writer to join his speechwriting team when she graduated from Plan II in 1996.

Stivdent eventually left for law school at Yale; Gov. Bush became President Bush. The two rejoined after Stidvent passed the bar, and she reported for work in the West Wing as a special assistant to the president for policy.

On her second day, she was running up the stairs and rounded a corner so fast she nearly knocked over none other than Dick Cheney, the vice president.

“I was certain I was going to give the man another heart attack,” she says.

Cheney survived, and Stidvent kept her job. She stayed awhile in Washington, working as assistant secretary for policy at the Labor department, before returning to Texas and her alma mater. Now she’s a lecturer in the McCombs School of Business and an advocate for training future Hispanic leaders.

In May, Stidvent was presented with the Outstanding Young Texas Ex award at Commencement.

OYTEX, as it’s known, is given to four standout alumni under 40 years old. See the rest of the winners here and nominate deserving candidates here.

Video produced by Lynn Freehill, Scott Paull, and Erin Huddleston


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