Presidential Letter Reader Chrissy Dornon ’18 Recounts White House InternshipAfter a summer spent in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, the Gustavus junior is ready for a life of public service.
Posted on October 7th, 2016 by

Gustavus junior Chrissy Dornon in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House.

“I don’t want to be a politician.”

Gustavus Adolphus College junior Chrissy Dornon is clear on that. But after completing a summer placement in the Office of Presidential Correspondence at the White House, she’s developed an appreciation for public service and a desire to pursue a career in government or political campaigning after graduation.

As an intern in the White House correspondence office, Dornon read mail and email addressed to President Obama, entered data about each piece, and assisted in composing responses to constituents. The overall mission of the office is to listen to and understand the public’s views, experiences, and ideas, and to coordinate responses on behalf of the President.

“The experience definitely opened my eyes to the world we live in,” Dornon said. “I had the opportunity to see many different perspectives and sides to every story.”

The process for Dornon began last January, when the Madison, Wis. native, applied for the program. She interviewed by phone, submitted letters of recommendation from professors Richard Leitch and Maddalena Marinari, and passed a drug test and background check before being selected as a summer intern.

Dornon outside the White House.

Dornon outside the White House.

When she arrived in Washington D.C., she quickly realized that many of her peers attended Ivy League institutions. “I was a little bit intimidated at first, but after a week or so I realized I belonged,” Dornon recalled.

“Chrissy is determined and undeterred,” Gustavus political science professor Richard Leitch explained. “She’s consistent, following through on every commitment, and she is creative in how she deals with the unforeseen yet inevitable roadblocks that confront all projects.”

Each year, the White House Internship Program selects approximately 150 talented young people to work across 16 departments and offices. In addition to the daily work they do in their respective offices, the interns are connected with speakers including President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and other senior staffers who present on networking, communication skills, organization, and careers in politics.

An Annexstad Family Foundation Scholar, Dornon is involved on campus as a Gusties in Ongoing Leadership Development (GOLD) student coordinator, Diversity Center peer mentor, College Democrats co-president, and videographer for the Office of Sports Information. She’s considering whether to go directly to graduate school or to work in politics immediately after graduating next year.

“With Chrissy’s friendly, positive disposition and approachable demeanor, it’s no surprise that she wants to enter the world of public service,” Leitch said. “I’m glad that the White House internship confirmed her vocational path.”

“The classes and extracurriculars I’ve been involved with at Gustavus made me well-rounded and prepared me for the experience,” Dornon added. “After this summer, I’m much more confident in my skills.”

“And the professors here are great resources for helping us connect with internships and employers,” she continued. “Anything is possible.”

The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. The hands-on program is designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthen their understanding of the Executive Office and prepare them for future public service opportunities.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad



  1. Hubert says:

    You go Chrissy!

  2. Jane Lalim says:

    Liberal arts learning at it’s finest with academic interests in COM, GWSS, and PCS along with Politics–so wonderful to see out-of-class learning opportunities connect with your experiences on another hill, Gustavus!