AlumNow: School Zone Dallas alum lands in the White House

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Stephanie L. Young thought that one day she might be a teacher. However, her ambitions, which were encouraged by a favorite teacher and a central staffer, took her far beyond the classroom.

Today, Young is the Associate Director of Communications at the White House, and in her short career, she has landed in some very impressive places.

AlumNow, which is a Hub feature that checks in with district alumni to see where they are now, recently caught up with Young recently to see what she’s been doing since graduating from the School of Education and Social Services (known now as Rosie Sorrells School of Education and Social Services) at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center in 2002.

What are you doing now?

I serve as the Associate Communications Director for the White House where I work with the communications team and various components within the White House and the administration to develop and manage communications plans and strategy to rollout, or announce, domestic policy and presidential events. I’ve served in this position for one year.

Briefly list a few of your career and/or personal highlights.

I have been fortunate to have many highlights, but here are the top five:

  1. The White House is definitely THE highlight of my career and having the opportunity to work with such gifted, exceptionally smart and talented people for President Barack Obama on behalf of the American people.
  1. Additionally, serving as the Director of Constituency Media for the President’s Inauguration where I had the opportunity to witness the entire event come together from beginning to end. A special moment [was]announcing the bibles President Obama would use for his swearing in: President Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s bibles.
  1. Serving as the Communications Director for the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and working with the brightest, most charismatic members in the Congress: living legends like Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson, Emanuel Cleaver, and John Lewis, the civil-rights icon. Also, John Conyers and Charlie Rangel, founders of the caucus, and Maxine Waters, the legendary fighter for human rights. All of those members have made an impact on this nation and on our world. Proudest moment with the CBC was working on the “For the People Jobs Initiative” – a five city jobs tour. I felt proud to help show America the face of unemployment, while working to change it.
  1. Representing our nation as a congressional staffer in China and Finland on Congressional delegation tours when staffers from the House of Representatives are chosen to travel internationally on behalf of the government.
  1. Working with the PBS NewsHour and in the TV studio with journalism giants Jim Lehrer and Gwen Ifill as they anchored this historic show.

What was your favorite subject or activity/involvement in high school?

I loved the opportunity to learn outside the classroom through our internship programs. Through that experience I was able to explore my interest in journalism as an intern in the superintendent’s office, which lead to my participation in the pilot show for School Zone Dallas!

Who was your favorite teacher?

There were a couple, but Mrs. Roberson in the ESSM Magnet program always believed in me and made me feel special. She pushed and encouraged me to follow my dreams, plus she was incredibly sweet.

Jon Dahlander, the Dallas ISD spokesman, was not a teacher in the classroom but he taught me so much about the news business and myself during my internship in the superintendent’s office. Jon saw something in me that I did not recognize in myself, and he gave me the opportunity to explore my interests in TV news. He also took a chance by selecting me as one of the hosts for the School Zone Dallas pilot, which in no doubt led to my major in college, brief career in journalism and eventually political communications all the way to the White House.

What lesson did you learn in high school or beyond that has served you well through the years?

You have to work hard, take chances and be nice to people. That goes a long way. You cannot be complacent, but instead go after what you want. I was in the Education and Social Services Magnet program because I had an interest in teaching, but I also had interest in TV news. I expressed my interest and took on additional work to pursue it. You have to work for what you want.

What advice, if any, would you offer to high school students today?

Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way from interning, to asking a teacher for extra help or guidance on the future you see for yourself. You will never be in high school again so milk it for all it’s worth – not just socially – but academically. Push yourself because [you’ll] only regret not giving it your all.

College/University and degree earned:

Hampton University, Hampton VA, B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 2006 

If you would like an opportunity to be spotlighted in AlumNow, please complete the questionnaire and submit along with a recent high-resolution headshot. We look forward to catching up with you and sharing your accomplishments.

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