Fifteen years ago, NBC launched a political drama television series that swept the nation in fast-paced, talking-while-walking dialogue and left us wondering if President Bartlet (played by actor Martin Sheen) would be a good one in real life.
I’m talking about The West Wing. I fell in love with the show for one reason: C.J. Cregg (played by actress Allison Janney). Ok, actor Rob Lowe didn’t hurt either.
As White House Press secretary, C.J. was not only smart, strong and savvy enough to make her way through the cutthroat politics in Washington, D.C., but she flourished in it. I loved her character. As a Bloomsburg student majoring in mass communications and political science, I remember thinking C.J.’s job must be the direction for me to go in.
Thankfully, the experiences I had and the people I met at Bloomsburg opened my mind to a multitude of career possibilities – not only those scripted for television. Experiences like serving on the university’s Council of Trustees and meeting people like Marie Conley ’94 (featured in the fall 2014 issue of Bloomsburg: The University Magazine) who also served on the Trustees.
Marie left a formidable impression on me. She had similar experiences to mine as a student. She had a career that combined communications and politics. She was passionate about her work on the Trustees and Bloomsburg University. I related to her on so many levels.
We connected when Marie was on-campus – she wanted to know how I was doing and for me to reach out if I needed anything. She took a great interest in me, and I’ve long appreciated that about Marie. Through our conversations, I gained confidence and clarity that my career could take any direction that I chose. I could map a career and lifestyle that would allow all of my passions and interests to bloom.
Marie was a real-life C.J. to me – and her title wasn’t White House Press secretary. I have been fortunate in my career to have met other C.J.’s along the way. I will be ever grateful to Marie for being the first.
— Kendra (Branchick) Martin ’03