Alumnus Connects With American People

UCF alumnus Michael Taylor ’13 took his degree in international and global studies to the White House, working as the letter writer engagement and events coordinator in the Office of Presidential Correspondence during the Obama administration.

His job connected him with Americans on a daily basis, requiring him to read the presidential mail looking for stories to highlight.

“The executive branch can seem distant, so we wanted to take stories of real Americans and have them feel heard,” Taylor said.

This process included giving 9/11 first responders tours of the White House and welcoming Wounded Warriors and their families to the Easter Egg Roll and Trick-or-Treat events or families with exceptional heartache or inspiration to celebrate holidays on the South Lawn. He invited Americans from all walks of life to visit the White House. During national tragedies such as the Pulse night club shooting or terrorist attacks overseas, Taylor helped former President Barack Obama distribute letters of condolence to the victim’s families.

“I found solace and pride in the fact that I lived in a country where someone who works at the most powerful building in the world takes a moment to mourn the loss of someone he never knew, because their life mattered and it was taken way too soon.” Taylor said.

Taylor with the Obama’s dog, Bo

Through his role, Taylor connected with the pulse of the American people and interacted with people from all over the country. He helped host several State Dinners and even had the chance to meet celebrities while working at the BET concert.

“Often, I think we as a society can get really bogged down in the negative things that happen here in America and across the world, and because of that we can lose sight of the amazing things that happen here, too,” he said.

In quieter moments, Taylor reflected on the words of former Press Secretary Tony Snow, who encouraged White House employees to remember their position and understand how blessed they are. This sentiment remained with Taylor during times where he was alone in the West Wing, or staring at the history in the Secretary of War Suite in the Eisenhower Building or finding himself resting his legs on a couch in the red room after working until 1 a.m.

“It was an indescribable experience,” Taylor said. “Long hours were made easier because you were working for a cause that is so much larger than yourself.”

Taylor got his start in the Office of Presidential Correspondence in 2010, where he originally worked as an intern during his time still at UCF.

“In 2010, people were hurting,” he said. “The economy wasn’t bouncing back and people were reaching out to their president in hopes he could do something.”

Taylor and his family with President Obama

This experience, in leading a team of 12 volunteers in the daily act of reading and analyzing the Presidential Correspondence, helped shape Taylor’s perspective on life—as well as his family’s support. As the son of a Naval Officer, Taylor learned the importance of a hard day’s work. His mother taught him lessons in strength and respect.

“If I can’t do something, I think about either of my parents and their struggles, and I get it done,” Taylor said. “My most memorable experience at the White House was when I was able to bring my family into the Oval Office and meet the President of the United States. That instance is so special to me—if they didn’t raise me to be the man I am today, then that meeting wouldn’t have happened. I owe everything to my family.”

Taylor’s drive and extensive leadership abilities stem from his family’s experiences and helped lead to his official position at the White House. His UCF degree and minor in diplomacy also helped him grow. Taylor’s degree helped him create meaningful connections to people around the globe and navigate political cultures both internationally and locally. UCF’s curriculum also stressed the importance of writing and communication, skills particularly important in a political landscape.

“The depth and breadth of the writing that my courses required has been the most important skill I learned from my degree,” he said. “Being able to articulate thoughts on paper through writing and critical thinking is so important, and I am happy UCF challenged me to do so.”

When the Obama administration ended, Taylor took a job as a senior analyst at Accenture Federal Services. Now he uses the skills he learned from his time at the White House and his education to consult on behalf of federal government clients.

“Regardless of the politics, my job is to do what’s best for our clients—the American people,” Taylor said. “Working on projects that create real change for every American is the best part of my job.”

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